Select Page

Insurance coverage may be able to protect people in West Virginia who were injured at another owner’s property, even if they did not obtain a policy for the site where the injury occurs, at least if the state’s courts adopt the position taken in Massachusetts. There, the Supreme Judicial Court mandated that an insurer pay out liability claims at a property that was not included in its policy. The policy had contained an exception for incidents taking place at uninsured premises, but the court ruled that the insurer cannot escape liability.

In the case in question, four people were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning at one man’s remote cabin. They used a portable generator left inside the cabin to power a refrigerator, even though the generator was designed for outdoor use only. The cabin was uninsured, but the owner had a policy for another property through Green Mountain Insurance Company. It explicitly stated that bodily injuries at other, uninsured properties would not be covered.

The insurance company proactively sought a declaratory judgment after the deaths, anticipating that a claim would be forthcoming against the owner of the cabin. However, the insurance company’s attempt was rejected by the court, because the generator was portable and could be moved from place to place. Therefore, the accident was not caused by anything fixed at the uninsured property. In addition, the court also said that the owner’s failure to educate his guests about the proper use of the generator was the key issue, not any aspect of the property.

Property owners have a responsibility to provide a safe environment to guests and customers, especially if they are running a business. A personal injury lawyer may help people injured due to a property owner’s negligence to seek compensation for their damages through a premises liability claim.