Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. // Applying Florida Insurance Policy Per Person/Per Occurrence Coverage Limits in Wrongful Death Cases

cemetery1-300x200Liability insurance policies issued in Florida that provide coverage for personal injuries contain a per person/per occurrence provision. The provision declares the limits of coverage available under the policy.

The Florida Wrongful Death Act outlines who may be compensated for the wrongful death of a person caused by the intentional act or negligence of a third party. The Act refers to these individuals as “Survivors.” Section 768.18(1) Florida Statutes (2016). (Link to this page to see a “Survivors” chart.)

As the chart shows, there can be multiple Survivors in a single case. How does the per person/per incident provision apply to the situation involving more than one survivor?

In Jones v. Zagrodnik, Dean Jones was killed in a collision with a negligent Roger Zagrodnik. Zagrodnik was insured by Home Insurance under a $100,000 per person/$300,000 per occurrence policy. There were three “Survivors.” The Fifth District Court of Appeal limited their recovery to a total of $100,000, reasoning that their claims were derivative from the deceased and fell under the per person limit of the policy.

In Geico General Ins. Co. v. Arnold, the parents of a minor child killed in a moped crash argued that the “per person” language of the policy did not limit their recovery under the Florida Wrongful Death Statute, claiming an independent right of recovery for the value of the loss of support and services and for their own pain and suffering. The Third DCA disagreed, citing Zagrodnik and a long line of other cases to explain its position.

The starting point in these cases is the insurance policy’s relevant definitions and provisions. However, given the large body of law on the subject it is unlikely that a policy will be found with language bringing it outside of the “per person” restriction.

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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.

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