Insurer found liable in carbon monoxide fatalities case

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2020 | Firm News

An insurance company was ruled responsible in a civil case where four people died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The case raised issues of premises liability law that may be applicable in Georgia cases. The people were staying in a cabin that did not have electricity and used a gas generator to run power to a small refrigerator. The owner of the cabin had a homeowners insurance policy that covered a different property and specifically excluded coverage for bodily injury occurring on a property not insured by the policy.

Counsel for one of the parties who died in the cabin gave notice to the homeowners policy insurer. The insurer sought a judgment saying that the homeowners policy would not cover the incident. The insurer relied on the conclusions of an electrical engineer who said the deaths were due to running the generator indoors with insufficient ventilation. The judge ruled against the company on summary judgment. After appeal, the case was moved to the state supreme court.

The state supreme court found that the incident at the cabin could not trigger the uninsured premises provision of the insurance policy because the generator was portable. Since it was not a permanent fixture in the cabin and was not used regularly for electricity, the insurance company could have been found liable. The primary issue in the case was the policy holder’s failure to teach the people how to use the generator.

Individuals who are injured in Georgia while on the property of another person may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses or other damages. A lawyer who handles premises liability cases might help by gathering evidence, conducting witness interviews or otherwise working to build a case for trial. A lawyer may be able to negotiate a settlement with at-fault parties on behalf of the client.