Children are both very susceptible to and sometimes actively engaged in bullying. It is every parent’s nightmare to be on either end of the spectrum of bullying, but it is an everyday battle fought amongst young people in their day-to-day lives.
Case in point D.E. v. Unifund Assurance Company, where defendants are looking to their insurance company for coverage in a suit being filed against them, in which their daughter, along with two others, is accused of bullying, threatening and hitting the plaintiff.
They seek coverage for the perceived liability but the insurance company does not believe that they are covered since the acts committed were intentional.
First, we take a look at the key elements of coverage obtained by the applicants. In their policy, it states that they would be fully covered if they were to be held liable for any unintentional damages committed by their policy holders, anywhere in the world. The contract had certain exclusions as well. It specifically stated that it would not cover any damages arising from intentional criminal acts, or failure to act (such as physical and emotional abuse) by the insured and their family.
The applicants were accused of the following;
- inaction to investigate (during the time that their minor child was bullying the victim)
- inaction to enforce steps in an attempt to cease the bullying
- inaction to stop the bullying that they knew of
- inaction to enforce disciplinary repercussions against their minor
- failure to discharge their duty to discontinue the bullying attacks by their minor ward
The issues to be determined here are the insurer’s duty to defend and duty to indemnify. Simply put, it means that they would cover costs if a client is held liable and would also defend the action being brought against them.
After weighing previous cases which bore some similarities to this one, the Judge made a decision. He saw that in this specific case, the applicants were being held liable because their actions or lack thereof, unintentionally caused the bullying and torment to go on. It was not of deliberate intention to further cause harm to the victim. His judgment therefore ordered the insurance company to honor the policy as the exclusions contained in it could not be applied to this case.
Each case is different and subject to individualized scrutiny when being tried. Having an experienced firm on your side can go a long way to helping you obtain a successful outcome. If you are in need of legal advice concerning personal injury, please call us at Rastin and Associates for your free initial consultation today. We are here to help.