Supreme Court Rules Against Emotional Distress Being Considered “Bodily Injury”

by mdp | September 17th, 2012

justive_gavel_thumbIn a unanimous decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that auto insurance policies in Tennessee are not required to provide coverage for mental injuries or emotional distress when the insured party has suffered no physical harm. The Court clarified this component of insurance coverage in light of a 2006 accident in which an 18-year-old boy was struck and fatally injured by a car while riding his mini-bike near his Tennessee home. While the family’s insurance company compensated the family for the boy’s wrongful death, the carrier contended that the parents’ emotional distress did not constitute “bodily injury,” and would therefore not be covered under the policy. If you have lost a loved one in a Tennessee car accident, enlisting the help of a qualified wrongful death attorney in Tennessee is critical to receiving the compensation you are entitled to. Contact our knowledgeable wrongful death lawyers at Michael D. Ponce & Associates today for legal help.

Insurance Company Denies Emotional Distress Claim

In the aftermath of the fatal Tennessee car accident, the family of the victim filed claims for wrongful death and infliction of emotional distress against the negligent driver. The parents also pursued compensation for wrongful death and emotional distress from their own insurance company under the uninsured motorist provision of their insurance policy. While the driver settled with the family on both counts, the insurance company offered reimbursement only for the boy’s wrongful death, refusing to pay any damages for the family’s emotional injuries. According to the insurer, the “mental injury” or emotional distress of the victim’s parents did not constitute “bodily injury” as defined in the policy. While the trial court agreed with the parents and ruled in favor of coverage for their emotional distress, the Court of Appeals reversed the ruling.

Wrongful Death Attorneys for Fair and Timely Compensation

Just last month, the TN Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals decision, ruling that the Tennessee statute requiring insurance companies to provide compensation for “bodily injury to a person and sickness, disease or death that results from it” does not obligate insurance carriers to cover the emotional distress of a victim’s family members. So, despite the fact that the parents and younger brother of the 18-year-old killed in the Tennessee car accident saw his “mangled body” as they rushed to the scene, and subsequently “suffered grief, fright, shock, depression, loss of sleep and other problems,” their emotional distress will not be covered by their insurance company. If you are grieving the loss of a loved one killed in a Tennessee car accident, contact our qualified wrongful death attorneys at Michael D. Ponce & Associated as soon as possible. With the help of our experienced wrongful death lawyers, you can protect your legal rights and seek fair and timely reimbursement for your losses.