Appeals Court in California Discusses Loss of Consortium Claims

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When someone is injured due to the fault of another, there are a number of different kinds of damages that can be claimed in California. One kind of damages is “loss of consortium.” Rather than being brought by the injured person themselves, loss of consortium is a claim brought by their spouse. Loss of consortium is the loss of companionship, assistance, care, affection, moral support, and/or intimacy. Essentially, the spouse has been injured by the tortfeasor in that they do not have all of the services and companionship of their spouse due to the injuries they have suffered. Your knowledgeable California personal injury attorney can help you to determine whether you or your spouse may be able to recover damages for loss of consortium.

Loss of Consortium

In order to recover for loss of consortium, the spouse of the injured party needs to prove four things. First, the plaintiff must prove that their spouse was injured by the negligence or wrongful act of another person. Second, they must prove that they were lawfully married or were valid registered domestic partners at the time of the injury. Third, the plaintiff must prove that they have suffered from the loss of their partner’s consortium. Finally, they need to prove that the loss was caused by the defendant’s wrongdoing.

Insurance Policy Limits

The California Third Appellate District recently heard a case involving loss of consortium damages. The question they had to answer was how claims for loss of consortium relate to insurance policy recovery limits. In other words, are loss of consortium claims subject to the same per person limit as the bodily injury claims? Or since they are technically damages for the spouse of the injured person does it count as another “person” in terms of the per person limit? If so, does the per occurrence limit apply?

California case law has determined that the answer to this question depends on the language in the insurance policy. In this case, the trial court ruled that the policy at issue in this case requires that the cases be aggregated so that only one per person limit applies. Specifically, the language at issue states that “the maximum we will pay as damages for bodily injury, including damages for care and loss of service, to one person per occurrence.”

As no previous cases addressed this specific language, the court here needed to determine how to interpret this language themselves. The appeals court agreed with the trial court on this matter. They held that the language in the plaintiff’s policy specifically includes a spouse’s loss of consortium, and thus the per person limit will apply.

Contact an Experienced Southern California Personal Injury Attorney Today!

If a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of someone else, whether due to a car accident or another occurrence, you should contact a Southern California personal injury attorney as soon as possible. As shown here, you may be entitled to damages even when your spouse is the injured party. The experienced personal injury attorneys at the Neumann Law Group serve clients in Southern California, including Los Angeles and Huntington Beach. Schedule your free consultation today by calling (213) 277-0001 or by using the contact form on this website.

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