An action against an insurer to recover accidental death benefits may be brought in any state court of general jurisdiction. Venue is determined by the rules and statutes of the jurisdiction in which the lawsuit is filed. In cases where the beneficiary and the insurance company are not residents of the same state and the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000, the beneficiary can sue in federal district court in a diversity jurisdiction action. Venue in actions based upon diversity jurisdiction is proper in the district where the beneficiary or the insurer resides, or in the district in which the claim arose.
Generally, a beneficiary’s recovery will be in the amount specified in the Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) or Life Insurance policy. However, if the insurer’s denial was done in bad faith, the beneficiary may be entitled to additional damages such as damages for emotional distress. In some cases, punitive damages may be available when the insurer’s tortious conduct involves malice or oppression.