The client’s husband died in an auto accident when a faulty gas tank ruptured and fire engulfed his car. The insurance company refused to pay her the accidental death benefits because of an exclusion in the policy for losses occurring when one is driving while under the influence of an intoxicant. Here, an autopsy found morphine in the deceased husband’s blood.
We investigated and found that the morphine was a byproduct of his pain medication (Tylenol with Codeine) prescribed for the husband for his back condition. We pointed out to the insurance carrier the California Insurance Code prohibits an insurer from denying an accidental death claim based on the use of prescribed medications. The insurer continued to deny the claim. We filed an ERISA lawsuit on behalf of our client.
Stennett & Casino took the case to trial and our client was awarded judgment for the entire amount of the policy plus interest and attorney’s fees.