Murder an Accident? To Insured It Is, Court Says

March 30, 2011

New York’s top court says the estate of a man run down by a homicidal driver is entitled to make insurance claims for injuries caused by an accident.

The Court of Appeals says that even though Ronald Popadich pleaded guilty to murder for killing Neil Conrad Spicehandler when he intentionally drove into Manhattan pedestrians in 2002, it was clearly “unexpected and unforeseen” from Spicehandler’s point of view.

State Farm Insurance Cos. denied liability on the grounds that it wasn’t an accident.

The majority in Tuesday’s 5-2 ruling says that Spicehandler’s estate is entitled to claims under his policy’s coverage for uninsured motorist, mandatory personal injury protection and death, dismemberment and loss of sight.

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