An insurance policy purchased by the nursing home owners charged Wednesday with negligent homicide in the deaths of 34 residents as a result of Hurricane Katrina may be a source of recovery for aggrieved parties and is also a critical piece of evidence for the plaintiffs, say two authorities from the LexisNexis Expert News Source (LENS) Program.
“While criminal acts are specifically excluded from commercial general liability policies, a question will arise about the scope of coverage for wrongful death and negligence claims,” said Luke Brown, a LexisNexis insurance analyst and adjunct professor at Florida State University School of Business. “Other questions may also come up about tailored policies that address risk and associated liability relating to nursing home operation.”
Brown suggests that lawyers worldwide representing nursing homes, in particular, review insurance coverage to be sure the scope of clients’ policies casts a wide net in the event that Mother Nature decides to again wreak havoc.
“The twist is in the facts of the insurance policy, and what I do is decipher the coverage line by line, then look past it,” said Roger Dodd, a litigator and author of the book published by LexisNexis, Cross-Examination: Science & Techniques, available at www.lexisnexis.com/bookstore. “The outcome of most any lawsuit relating to insurance can backfire on the very person it was meant to protect. Insurance coverage and the language therein may become a jury verdict awarded to the plaintiffs.”
Added Dodd, “Any of the criminal cases originating from Hurricane Katrina are fraught with emotion under the circumstances, and those who have lost a loved one in this disaster are bound to seek justifiable answers as to why. I foresee an uphill battle for the defendants.”
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