Accidental Death Claim: Drug Overdose Death

Our client’s son died as a result of an accidental drug overdose.  The father was the beneficiary on the accidental death insurance policy.  Insurance company refused to pay the benefits claiming that the death was not “accidental.”  The question came down to whether it was reasonably foreseeable that one would die as a result of taking illegal drugs (in this case heroin).  The insurance company pointed to cases from other states that held that death due to overdose of cocaine was not “accidental.”  We found governmental statistics that indicated that the incidence of death by overdose among heroin addicts was .014%.  These statistics along with the facts that decedent was not a regular user and was scheduled the next day to fly to St. Louis to join his brother’s family and start a new life were instrumental in convincing the court that it was not reasonably foreseeable that decedent’s use of heroin would result in his death – thus, it was an “accidental death.”  Judgment was obtained against the life insurance company for the full amount of the death benefits plus interest and attorney’s fees.


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