Preschool Sued After Toddler Dies In Hot Van
This is an upsetting situation. A toddler died in a hot van after being left alone for four hours. At the time, the child was the responsibility of their daycare. That the daycare is responsible for the child’s death is not the problem. Their insurer refuses to take liability for the claim, throwing a wrench in the process.
When you file a lawsuit against a business or an individual, it is typical that an insurance company would step in to defend the claim. If you get into a car accident, it’s your auto insurer. If someone falls on your stairs, it’s your homeowner’s insurance policy. The insurer will review the claim, make sure that the situation is covered by the policy, and then indemnify the defendant by taking liability and paying the claim. In exchange, the company pays a monthly premium.
However, the policy has terms and it only covers some situations. In this case, the insurer claims that the defendant canceled the policy weeks before the incident and was not insured at the time of the toddler’s death.
The news that the policy was canceled comes after the family won a $21 million judgment against the daycare. The death occurred on May 22. The insurance company claims the policy was canceled on May 6 because of a lapsed payment.
The daycare owner
The hammer fell on the daycare facility with a $21 million judgment, but it really fell on the daycare owner who left the child in the van. He was charged with manslaughter, sentenced to 3 years of house arrest, and will be required to spend the weekend in jail on the anniversary of the child’s death. He was sentenced to 18 years probation and his license to deal with children has been revoked.
The insurance company
Yeah, you can claim that a policy was defunct, but you probably want better evidence than 16 days late. The plaintiffs will present evidence that they paid the policy when they pleased and it was never a problem until they submitted a $21 million claim. That is likely what happened. Nonetheless, the insurance company will not have to pay $21 million. The limit of the policy is likely somewhere around $1 million. So the policy would be responsible for that, and the defendant would be responsible for $20 million, which would remain on his estate unless he declared bankruptcy or paid it off somehow.
The insurance company doesn’t want to pay anything, but the argument that the policy was defunct after 16 days of being unpaid is probably not going to fly in court. If the policy was a month overdue, then a termination notice would have likely been sent.
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