Can a spouse recover as an independent claim under an auto policy? This post discusses the relationship between loss of consortium and car insurance.
This question is a very important one. I see this issue arising more and more in my cases. The reason has a lot to do with Connecticut’s irresponsibly low auto insurance coverage minimums which are as follows:
Here are the lowest CT Auto Insurance Policies:
1. $20,000 for injury to or death of a person,
2. $40,000 for injury to or death of more than one person in any accident, and
3. $10,000 for property damage (CGS §§ 38a-335 and 14-112(a)).
To put this in context, let me tell you a story. A woman is driving her car. She’s in her lane. Suddenly a man who is texting crosses the centerline and hits her head on. She is very injured. Has multiple fractures in her legs and face. And she requires emergency surgery. And she spends weeks in the hospital. Then there’s home rehabilitation.
And as is far too common, the guy who chose to snapchatting his girlfriend over the safety of us all – has only a state minimum policy of 20/40. And he has no other assets to attach. No house. No money in the bank. Nothing.
As a result, her husband has to take FMLA leave to care for her. He spends countless hours taking her to doctor’s appointments and doing the household tasks she used to do.
What is Loss of Consortium?
He has a claim for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is a suit by a spouse for the loss of the affection, dependence and companionship that he has suffered through the loss of his spouse. Damages for loss of consortium include both past and future loss. “Consortium” includes affection, society, companionship and physical intimacies of the spousal relationship. You can read more about loss of consortium claims here.
A 20/40 policy means the insurance company is limited to only having to pay out $20,000 per person and $40,000 per wreck. For example, if there was a passenger in the woman’s car the total insurance company would have to pay out is $40,000 – $20,000 to the driver and $20,000 to the passenger
Can the husband recover even though he was not in the car but suffered a compensable loss as a direct result of the driver choosing to violate road safety rules?
Will Insurance Cover?
The answer is a very unsatisfactory “no”.
A plaintiff asserting a claim for a loss of consortium cannot-recover an independent “per person” recovery under an automobile insurance policy due. Connecticut courts hold that this is a derivative claim. If you like reading such things, the leading Connecticut case on this issue is Izzo v. Colonial Penn Ins Co., 203 Conn. 305 (1987).
Most of all, you’ll notice if you read the case is that the limits in 1983 were 20/40. In the face of massive medical inflation over the past 33 years these minimal limits remain in place. Its profits over people.
Therefore, the amount of coverage available to both the injured person and her spouse is $20,000.
Further, the insurance companies limit their liability in their auto policies. The standard clause in the policy defining the “per person” liability limit as applicable to all damages arising from that person’s bodily injuries, also precludes such recovery.
In conclusion, this is nothing more than profits over people.
Contact me if you have been injured in a car wreck and have questions about your rights. I am only licensed to in Connecticut. (860) 471-8333 or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org