Our client’s husband died after falling and hitting his head on their back patio. The trauma caused a subdural hematoma which became mortal in less than four hours. The death certificate classified the death as “accidental.” The “immediate cause” of death was listed as “subdural hemorrhaging from blunt force injury to head” and a “contributing condition” was listed as “thrombocytopenia.”
Client submitted a claim to UNUM Insurance Company for benefits under an accidental death policy. UNUM denied the claim based on a limitation in the policy that excludes coverage for accidental losses “caused by, contributed to by, or resulting from diseases of the body.” The disease cited by UNUM was thrombocytopenia, which was most likely a consequence of decedent’s recent bone marrow transplant performed as treatment for his carcinoma. Thrombocytopenia is a condition that results in excessive bleeding, which UNUM asserted substantially contributed to the subdural bleeding resulting in death.
Stennett & Casino obtained a statement from the medical examiner’s office that supported their client’s position. In effect, the medical examiner stated that though decedent’s condition of thrombocytopenia may have contributed to the bleeding there was no evidence with which one could say that decedent would have survived the fall in the absence of the thrombocytopenia. Despite this evidence UNUM continued its denials. Stennett & Casino filed suit on behalf of their client which resulted in a settlement of the claim.