To receive accidental death benefits under a life insurance or accidental death & dismemberment plan, a beneficiary must prove that the insured’s death was accidental. The proof of death by violent means raises a presumption of accidental death. Evidence of an insured’s cause of death can be shown through an autopsy report, medical examiner record, police report, or death certificate.
Where the accidental death policy contains both a condition that the injury sustained in an accident must result independently of all other causes and an exclusion for injuries caused directly or indirectly by a bodily or mental infirmity, it is not sufficient for the plaintiff to simply show a causal relationship between the accident and the death. In such cases, the plaintiff must also prove that the death was caused solely by the accident and that the illness, disease, or infirmity in question was not a contributory factor. On the other hand, for deaths involving intoxication, such as when the accidental death policy excludes “loss or injury resulting from the use of intoxicating liquors,” it is the insurer, and not the beneficiary, that has the burden to show that the intoxicant was the direct cause of death. Insurers will often deny a valid claim for accidental death benefits.
If you were denied accidental death benefits, do not be discouraged, contact an experienced life insurance attorney who will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.