SW Legal Educational Publishing

Suicide by Driver Is Not an Accident; Auto Insurance Coverage Does Not Apply
Description Appeals court upheld verdict for insurer of driver who committed suicide by driving her car into a truck. Since the event was not an accident, the policy did not apply to the losses suffered by the other driver's insurance company.
Topic Insurance
Key Words Accident; Suicide
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Nygaard's daughter committed suicide by driving her car into a truck driven by Odegard, who was injured in the accident. Odegard received workers' compensation benefits. That insurer sued State Farm, the decedent's insurer, seeking coverage of the workers' compensation benefits by forcing State Farm to pay benefits to Nygaard, which could then be recovered. State Farm defended, claiming that the policy applied to accidents, which a suicide was not. Trial court granted State Farm summary judgment. Workers' compensation insurer appealed.
Decision Affirmed. "An insurance policy provision is to be interpreted according to both its plain, ordinary meaning and what a reasonable person in the position of the insured would have understood it to mean." "An accident is simply a happening that is unexpected and unintended." Intentional suicide is not an accident, so the policy does not provide coverage.
Citation Nygaard v. State Farm Insurance, 591 N.W.2d 738 (Ct. App., Minn., 1999)

Back to Insurance Listings

©2000  South-Western, a division of Cengage Learning, Inc. Cengage Learning is a trademark used herein under license.