Exceeding Your Expectations

 

Personal injuries arising from physical assaults are all too common.Often times these injuries lead to lawsuits.Even injuries caused by an act of self-defense can lead to a personal injury lawsuit. If faced with a personal injury lawsuit arising from an assault, is there insurance coverage for the victim's injuries?

Most homeowners' insurance policies provide coverage for "accidents" caused by the insured.During the last four decades, California courts routinely recognized that injuries arising from an assault done in self-defense fell within scope of "accidents" for purposes of insurance coverage. Gray v. Zurich (1966) 65 Cal. 2d 263; Mullen v. Great Falls Ins. Co., (1977) 73 Cal. App. 3d 163.This was true even where the insured mistakenly believed he or she was acting in self-defense. Thus, if an insured injured another during a physical confrontation, a claim of self of defense typically sufficed to trigger insurance coverage for the alleged injury.

A recent California Supreme Court case narrowed the scope of insurance coverage for "accidents." As a result, an insured can no longer expect coverage for injuries arising from an assault - even where the insured acted in self-defense. Delgado v. Interinsurance Exchange of Automobile Club (2009) 47 Cal. 4th 302.

The Supreme Court's decision leaves both the aggressor and the victim of an assault in a perilous situation. The aggressor in a physical confrontation can no longer expect his or her insurance company to pay for his or her legal defense. Nor can the aggressor hope that his or her insurance company will pay the victim's damages in a lawsuit arising from the physical confrontation. Likewise, the victim of a physical confrontation must look to the aggressor's personal assets to satisfy any judgment for his or her injuries.

Although, the Supreme Court's recent decision in Delgado seems sweeping, it is important to carefully analyze language in each insurance policy before drawing any conclusions about potential coverage for an assault.

If you are the victim of an assault, contact the JCL Law Firm for an immediate legal consultation at 1-888-498-6999 or jlapuyade@jcl-lawfirm.com

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