Everyone knows that drinking and driving is a recipe for disaster. But if you're injured while driving drunk, does that mean your injuries are intentionally self-inflicted?
It does if you ask the global insurance giant Cigna, according to a recent lawsuit filed in Houston federal court.
Deborah Firman, who lives about an hour outside of Houston, is suing Cigna for wrongfully denying her husband's accident and life insurance benefits after he died in a drunk driving crash in 2008.
According to the lawsuit, Cigna told Firman that since her husband "would have been aware of the risks involved in operating his vehicle while under the influence, his death was a foreseeable result of his actions and thus not an accident." Cigna also told Firman that driving drunk is "conduct that must be deterred, apparently assuming a moral stance on this claim," the lawsuit states. In the end, Firman claims, Cigna decided that since her husband was intoxicated, his death was the "result of intentionally self-inflicted injuries."
Says Firman's attorney, James Plummer, "It's a shocking decision."
Firman claims that she appealed Cigna's denial of the claim, and provided an affidavit from the medical examiner who stated that there was no evidence that Friman's husband anticipated his death or was trying to hurt himself.
But what the heck does a medical examiner know anyhow?
Cigna denied the appeal, Firman claims, reasserting that her husband did not die in an "accident."
"It was a tragic accident," Plummer tells Hair Balls. "Unfortunately, the guy was intoxicated, but the insurance policy doesn't exclude accidental death as a result of intoxication. And since it doesn't exclude it, it's clearly covered. What [Cigna] has done is wrongfully and grossly denied this lady's benefits and put her in dire financial straights."
In the lawsuit, Firman claims that Cigna denied the benefits to reduce the number of claims the company pays as a way to increase its profits.
Firman is suing for the more than $200,000 in benefits that she says are due to her.
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