Life Insurance Claim Lawyer – Which Law Applies?

Life insurance lawyers need to read this 2022, opinion from the Fort Worth Court of Appeals.  The opinion is styled, Government Personnel Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Lincoln Factoring.

Many times where a person buys an insurance policy, where they die, where a beneficiary resides, or what the contract says may play a part in determining under which State law applies to disputes over the life insurance policy.

In this case, the question dealt with whether Texas law applied to the case or whether Louisiana law applied to the case.  The facts of the case can be gleamed from reading the opinion.  Here is a brief way the Court looked at the case and what life insurance lawyers need to know about when filing a lawsuit.

In this opinion the Court stated, Which state’s law governs an issue is a question of law for the court to decide.”  To answer this question, Texas courts apply the Restatement’s “most significant relationship” test.  The test examines which state’s law has the most significant relationship to a particular substantive issue by balancing the needs of the interstate systems; the policies of the forum and of other interested states; the relative interests of other states in the determination of the particular issue; the protection of justified expectations; the basic policies underlying the particular field of law; the certainty, predictability, and uniformity of result; and the ease in the determination and application of the law to be applied. For tort claims—such as Lincoln’s statutory claims and common law bad faith claim—these general choice-of-law principles are articulated and applied with reference to four primary considerations: (a) the place where the injury occurred, (b) the place where the conduct causing the injury occurred, (c) the domicile, residence, nationality, place of incorporation and place of business of the parties, and (d) the place where the relationship, if any, between the parties is centered. These four, tort-specific considerations are nonexhaustive and must be evaluated according to their relative importance with respect to the particular issue.

The question is not which state has the most significant relationship to the parties generally or to Decedent’s life-insurance Policy overall; the Restatement “requires the court to consider which state’s law has the most significant relationship to the particular substantive issue to be resolved.”

The Court the examined the facts of the case and the other factors cited above and rendered their decision.  Each case is different in these respects.  What is relevant is knowing where to look for answers when this issue is involved.

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