Recently, a Massachusetts appeals court affirmed a lower court’s judgment in a dispute between a property owner and an insurance company. The facts indicate that the homeowner purchased insurance for a property he owned in Massachusetts. The terms of the insurance policy included an agreement that the insurance company would protect the homeowner from property damage and personal injury claims against him. However, the agreement provided an exclusion for bodily injury claims stemming from the homeowner’s properties that were not included in the policy.
The man filed a claim with his insurance company when his two children and their friends died at an uninsured cabin he owned in Maine. The property was seasonal, and was generally only used during the summer months. The man obtained a building permit for this property but did not apply for or receive an occupancy certificate. The property was “off the grid” and only had a wood stove and a microwave. The man used a generator on the property when he needed to charge his power tools. During these instances, he would sometimes power the microwave, as the generator was already in use.
On one occasion, two of his children and their two friends went to the cabin to celebrate a birthday. After they arrived, they plugged a mini refrigerator into the generator to cool their drinks. However, they did not open any windows, and they all died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The families of his children’s s friends filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the man, claiming that he was negligent for failing to teach his children how to use the generator safely. The court awarded damages to both families and, in response, the man filed a claim with his insurance company.
The insurance company sought relief from the court, claiming it was not responsible for the damages assessed against the man. The insurance company claimed that the policy’s exclusionary terms preclude its responsibility to provide coverage from bodily injury claims from the man’s uninsured property. In response, the homeowner contended that the deaths arose from the improper use of the generator, not from the property in itself. The court reasoned that, unlike a defect in the home itself, such as a loose floorboard or falling roof slate, the generator was not a permanent fixture on the property. Thus, the court ultimately concluded that the deaths resulted from the homeowner’s failure to instruct his children on how to use the generator. Therefore, because the deaths were a result of the generator and not a condition of the property, the insurance company was required to provide the man with insurance coverage.
Are You Involved in a Dispute with a Massachusetts Insurance Company?
If you or someone you know is involved in a Massachusetts insurance dispute stemming from any type of insurance claim, contact the Law Offices of Barry Feinstein and Affiliates P.C. The lawyers at the Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates P.C. have been fighting the big insurance companies for over 25 years, handling various personal injury lawsuits, including Massachusetts car accidents, medical malpractice, and wrongful death claims. Personal injury claims are rarely straightforward, and our attorneys understand the importance of thoroughly evaluating each case and strategically developing a plan of action. Our attorneys take an individualized and detailed approach to each case to ensure that our clients obtain the compensation they deserve. We are continuing to provide consultations and representation through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Contact our office at 800-262-9200 to schedule your free initial consultation with an attorney on our team.