- accidental means
- Characterizing the nature of the cause of a happening by chance and without intention or design, which is unforeseen, unexpected and unusual at the time it occurs. 29A Am J Rev ed Ins § 1165; A11110: 17 ALR 1199. Where the death is the result of some act, but was not designed, and not anticipated by the deceased, though it be in consequence of some act voluntarily done by him, it is accidental death; but where death is caused by some act of the deceased, not designed by him, or not intentionally done by him, it is death by accidental means. See Ogilvie v Aetna Life Ins Co., 189 Cal 406, 411, 209 P 26, 26 ALR 116, 119. An injury received by making an intentional assault on another person by striking him in the face with the fist has been held not to have been by accidental means, within the meaning of an accident policy insuring against injuries received through accidental means. See Fidelity & Casualty Co. v Carroll, (CA4 SC) 143 F 271. For a death to occur by accidental means within the meaning of a life insurance policy, the immediate and proximate cause of the death must be accidental; a death is not by accidental means of it results as the natural and probable consequence of the voluntary act of the insured. Prudential Ins. Co. v Gutowski (Sup) 49 Del 233, 113 A2d 579, 52 ALR2d 1073. Although the courts in the past have drawn a distinction between "accident" and "accidental means," in recent years the terms have come to be regarded as legally synonymous. 29A Am J Rev ed § 1166. To attempt such a fine distinction is to plunge this branch of the law of insurance into a "Serbogian Bog." Dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Cardoza. in Landress v Phoenix Mot. Life Ins. Co. 291 US 491, 78 L Ed 934, 54 S Ct 461, 90 ALR 1382, which appears to have been of great weight on the side of eliminating the distinction.
Ballentine's law dictionary. Anderson, W.S.. 1998.