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Life Insurance Risks

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OCR Text

The Court of Appeals of Maryland ïas decided the cuse of the KnickerJocker Life Insurance Cotnpany va. Magdalena Petera, under an appeal of ;he coinpany froiu a decisión of the ower court. The company defends its action under the clause in the policy which makes it roid " if the assured shall die by his own hand or aot." The 3ourt says it is now too well settled ;o admit of question, that the clause is not to be construed as coinprehending every possible case in which life is taken by the party's own act. Por instance, all authorities concur in the view that an unintentional or accidontal taking of life is not withiu the meaning and intention of the clause. Thus, if by inadventure or acoident a party shoots himself or takes poison by mistake, or in a sudden freuzy or delusion tears a bandage from a wound and bleeds to death, in the literal sense of the terms he dies by his own act, vet all the decisions argüe that a reasonable construction of the provise acoording to the plain and obvious inteution of the parties, would exolude such parties from its operation. The aot of self-destruction in this case was by hanging, and the court instructed the jury that the clause in question would not prevent a recovery if they found frotn the evidence, that the deceased killed himself in a fit of insanity , which overpowered his consciousness, reason and will, and thus acted from a mere blind and uucontrollable impulse ; and that after they are satisfied that he died by his own hand, it becomes incumbent upon the plaintiff, on her part, to offer proof sufficient to prevent the operation of the olause ; and sho does not comply with such exigency by proof merely that he was iusane at times ; sho must piove that he was insane when the act wascommitted, and in absence of proof of his condition at the precise time when the act was committed, they must presume that he was then sane, and they cannot draw an inference that he was insane from the fact that he destroyed his own life. " These instructions," say the Judges, " state the law more explioitly and more favorably for the insurer than is found in any of the American authorities to which we have referred or to which our attention has been called in argument." The Court said, in effect, that when the act of self-destruction is done during insanity it is a death by accident. It had examined the record in the case, and could not say that there was no evidence legally sufficient to authorize a jury to infer and find that the deceased killed himself in a fit of insanity. The judgment of the Court below (the Court of Common Pleas ol Baltimore), which found for the plaintiff (Magdalen Peters), was affirined.


Old News
Michigan Argus