In a tragic RI wrongful death case, an 18 month old toddler died when left unattended by a babysitter. The babysitter owned the property in North Kingstown, RI where the accident occurred. The babysitter had homeowner’s insurance coverage at the time of the fatal accident. As is typical with homeowners Insurance there were numerous exclusions in the policy. The Insurance policy stated that “personal liability and medical payments coverage did not apply to “bodily injury” if it occurred in connection with a business.” PROVIDENCE MUTUAL FIRE : INSURANCE COMPANY v. KEVIN NEARY; INEZ NEARY; PAMELA METRO
No liability for paid babysitter negligence
The Providence Superior Court ruled in favor of the Insurance Company and determined that the Insurance Company is not liable to pay damages as a result of the fatality.
The homeowner had a long history of providing babysitting at $25 per day by check for the deceased child. The homeowner “…watched four children, including Luke Metro, over the course of a number of years.” She was paid to watch the other children also. Id.
The small child exited through a sliding glass door while left unattended. Sadly the toddler, drowned in a koi pond. The Insurance company, of course, denied they were responsible to pay the Rhode Island Wrongful Death claim because of a “business exclusion” in the insurance policy. Id.
Court must construe the policy by its terms
The Rhode Island Washington County Superior Court Judge ruled that: “This Court finds that business is adequately defined by the policy, and the other challenged terms are clearly capable of understanding. Thus this Court must construe the policy by its terms, and finds that Plaintiff has met its burden on summary judgment to show that there is no genuine issue of material fact, and that there is no coverage provided by the Policy.”Id.
May open a “Pandora‟s box”
“This Court is mindful that this may open a “Pandora‟s box” for babysitting and raise an issue of which homeowners are unaware–that if an accident occurs when babysitting a child in their home, they may not be covered under their homeowner‟s insurance policy. On the one hand, homeowner‟s insurance coverage is between the homeowner and his/her insurance company. The insurance company is willing to underwrite potential risks for a premium payment. This premium payment is calculated based upon the valuation of these risks. This valuation can only be calculated by analyzing the risks covered and the risks excluded under the policy.”
Insurance Policy exclusions
“From the perspective of the insurance company, if the insured desires certain exclusions within the insurance policy to be covered, the insurer, upon request, after pricing for that potential loss, may choose to issue a rider, issue a different policy or decline to provide coverage. On the other hand, the average homeowner does not sit down and review all of the provisions and exclusions in his/her homeowner‟s policy.” Id.
“Many homeowners may incorrectly assume that providing babysitting services either at their home or at the child’s home is covered under the policy. Unfortunately, it is not until a tragic event, such as this, that the homeowner realizes that this activity was not covered. Unfortunately for the homeowner, the fact that they did not review the coverage and/or exclusions in their insurance policy is not a justification for a Court to determine that there is coverage when, in fact, none exists under the policy.” STATE OF RHODE ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS WASHINGTON, SC. SUPERIOR COURT (FILED: AUGUST 1, 2012) PROVIDENCE MUTUAL FIRE : INSURANCE COMPANY v. KEVIN NEARY; INEZ NEARY; : PAMELA METRO, Individually and in her capacity as Administratrix of the Estate of Luke R. Metro; and PAUL : METRO, Individually and as Father and : Next of Kin to Luke Metro :: C.A. No. WC 11-0236, DECISION
If your spouse, loved one or family member is killed in a fatal car, truck accident, premises liability , motorcycle accident or other accident then contact a Rhode Island Wrongful Death attorney. A RI wrongful death lawyer can help you get the compensation you are entitled to.