Life Insurance Payment Denied

Weatherford insurance attorneys and those in Aledo, Azle, Springtown, Cool, Millsap, Willow Park, Hudson Oaks, and other places in Parker County need to know when to fight an insurance company.
A 1988, opinion issued by the Beaumont Court of Appeals styled, Massachusetts Indemnity v. Morrison, is a worth while read. Here is some relevant background.
Michael Morrison died when his car veered off the road and hit a tree. A handwritten note found at the scene appeared to be a suicide note.
Whether Morrison died by his own hand became an issue because nine months before his death Morrison bought a life insurance policy from Massachusetts, which provided that they were not obligated to pay if the insured committed suicide within two years of issuance of the policy.
Morrison’s wife, the beneficiary, sued Massachusetts when they denied her claim for benefits. A jury found that Morrison did not commit suicide and Massachusetts appealed that verdict saying the evidence showed otherwise.
This court began its analysis by acknowledging that there is a legal presumption against suicide. The insurance company met it’s burden of producing evidence of suicide to rebut the presumption. Once rebutted, the presumption is not evidence and is not to be weighed or treated as evidence. The result now was that the insurance company had the burden of proving to the jury that Morrison committed suicide.
When reviewing on appeal whether the evidence establishes suicide as a matter of law, an appeals court must determine whether the evidence, viewed most favorably in support of the jury’s verdict, amounts to more than a scintilla of evidence to support the verdict. Thus, this court had to examine the evidence.
When authorities reached the scene of the accident, the patrolman testified that there were some 20 to 30 people milling around. The area was not secured for almost 25 minutes.
After the car had been removed from the scene, a trooper found a note on the ground covered by a passenger mat. The passenger mat was missing from the car.
The note expressed love for his wife and expressed sorrow for mistakes.
Further evidence showed that Morrison was in bad health, was depressed, and having legal and marital problems. He had expressed to others that he would be better off dead.
Other evidence suggested an accident because the tree that was struck by Morrison’s car was off the road and partially hidden by brush. In the area, there were easier targets for a suicide including a bridge abutment and a telephone pole. Officers testified that it would have taken skill to hit the tree because Morrison would have had to travel across gravel and grass, through a depression, then forty feet through tall, thick underbrush before hitting the tree.
There was evidence of the death being a homicide, in that there was testimony that the note was not Morrison’s handwriting and a suspicion that was reported to police of Morrison’s father being responsible for Morrison’s death.
The court examined much other evidence suggesting, an accident, a homicide, and a suicide.
After viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the insured the court concluded that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to make the finding that it ultimately made in this case. They pointed out that for them to overturn the jury finding, they would have had to conclude that there was no credible evidence supporting the decision reached by the jury.
Two things to be taken from this case. One, consult an experienced Insurance Law Attorney early to get professional advice on the best course of action. Two, you have fight an insurance company when you have evidence in your favor showing the insurance company may have made an improper decision.

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