In many car accident cases, disputes can arise regarding insurance coverage for certain types of injuries. In Kivitz v. Erie Ins. Exch. (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Apr. 29, 2016), the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether an automobile insurance policy containing a household exclusion barred the wrongful death claims of the surviving children arising out of a fatal car accident.
The driver in the case was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of his passenger. The driver and passenger lived at the same residence but were not married. They jointly owned an automobile insurance policy issued by the defendant. The insurance policy contained a household exclusion, which excluded coverage for the passenger’s own injury and death. After the fatal accident, the passenger’s adult children brought their own wrongful death claims against the insurance company, seeking to recover compensation for their mental anguish and loss of consortium. The insurer declined coverage, asserting that the children’s claims were derivative of the passenger’s claims and thus were barred by the household exclusion.
The policy at issue covered the driver’s legal obligations for damages for personal injuries resulting from a covered occurrence. The policy excluded coverage for personal injury to the policyholders themselves, or to adults who resided in the same household as a policyholder. The term “personal injury” was included in the definition of “bodily injury” under the policy. Bodily injury was defined as physical harm, sickness, or disease including mental anguish, care, loss of services, or resulting death.