This concept is quite relevant in the world of life insurance. If you have the accidental death benefit on your policy, it will pay double the face amount if you die as a result of an accident. This is a valuable addition for working men who either drive a lot or have some sort of dangerous occupation, such as working with high explosives.

The problem with this benefit is when murder comes into play. For instance, if you're playing poker with your buddies, and you throw down 5 Queens in straight poker, and one of your friends pulls out a 9mm handgun and shoots you between your cheating eyes, is that an accident? No. Anything that is premeditated is not an accident.

If you are walking down a city street and a piano falls from the fifth floor of a building and crushes you, is that an accident? Yes. UNLESS, your disgruntled mistress lives in the apartment from which the piano fell.

This has been the premise for a couple of old movies. The wife and the lover kill the husband for the life insurance, and then realize that they could collect double if it had been an accident. They get caught trying to create that scenario.

It's always up to the jury, though. I saw a case one time where an ex-wife shot her ex-husband at the back door, through a screen door, at 5 PM on a summer afternoon, 6 times directly in the chest, and a jury found that it was an accident because she mistook him for a burglar. She left the courtroom a very rich widow.

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