In 'Corpse Explosion' Lawsuit, State Farm Wins Over Condo Owner

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. on April 25, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

No, this isn't a horror movie, but a Florida woman did claim that her neighbor's undiscovered corpse "exploded' and damaged her property, so State Farm, her insurer, should cover the damages.

State Farm disagreed with Judy Rodrigo's exploding corpse claim. At trial, Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal sided with State Farm, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

For insurance purposes, the court ruled that a decomposing body was not an insurable explosion.

What Does the Lawsuit Say?

All the legal issues started when Rodrigo's neighbor died and her body was undiscovered for a period of time. Apparently, bodily fluids from the decomposed body leaked into Rodrigo's condo and she characterized that cringe-worthy damage as an "explosion." Under her insurance policy with State Farm, damage to personal property was covered only in the event of "named peril" -- explosions being a "peril," the Sentinel reports.

Unfortunately for Rodrigo, State Farm didn't consider leakage from a decomposing body as an explosion, so it denied liability for the damage to her condo. The insurance company did offer a settlement payment, but Rodrigo refused it.

At trial, the court used "plain language" rules when determining what an explosion is. So unless there is some kind of zombie invasion in Florida, an explosion for insurance purposes probably won't include decomposing body cells explosively expanding and resulting in bodily fluid leakage.

Property Insurance Tips

In many scenarios, the policyholder will experience push back from the insurance company over what it's willing to cover. So if you're been in an accident or have damage to your property, re-read your insurance policy to see what's covered. You should also take photos or consider hiring an independent claims adjuster to help you show the insurer the extent of damage.

When it comes to damage caused by natural disasters, things could get even trickier because of the high volume of claims insurance companies receive. In those cases, the government may step in to help. After a severe tornado hit Joplin, Missouri in 2011, the governor signed an order that barred insurance companies from raising the rates or cancelling policies of the tornado victims until 30 days after the disaster struck.

If worst comes to worst, you can be like Rodrigo, and sue the insurance company if you think they've wrongfully denied your claim.

While Rodrigo didn't win her lawsuit, her case will likely be the star of your nightmares tonight.

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