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Insured’s Admission of Attempted Suicide Sufficient to Uphold Summary Judgment in Favor of the Insurer

Utah Supreme Court Holds that Speculation Regarding Medical Issues Affecting Policyholder’s Intent Can Not Overcome Policyholder’s Own Admission of Attempted Suicide for Purposes of “Accident” Coverage

In Heslop v. Bear River Mutual Insurance Company, 2017 UT 5 (Utah Jan. 25, 2017), the Utah Supreme Court held that an insured’s admission that she intentionally drove a car off of an embankment to attempt suicide was sufficient to uphold summary judgment in favor of the insurer, where the only evidence in opposition were medical opinions stating that 1) the policyholder’s overdose the night before the crash “could” have contributed to “irrational acts;” and  2) that the overdose made it “highly likely” that the policyholder was “impaired cognitively” at the time of the crash and “could not fully appreciate the consequences of her actions.” The court found that the evidence did not provide a reasonable basis for a jury to infer that the policyholder failed to comprehend that death or injury would be the consequence she would suffer if she drove off the road. Therefore, the injuries suffered were not “accidental” and not covered under the subject policy.  

Written by Richard A. Vazquez