Loss of Consortium Claims – Subject to “Per Person” or “Per Accident” Limits?

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Following an automobile accident, a family member or spouse of the injured person may seek compensation for loss of consortium from the injured person’s insurance policy. “Loss of consortium” means loss of marital relations or “companionship and society” with the injured person. Ferriter v. Daniel O’Connell’s Sons, Inc., 413 N.E.2d 690, 692 (1980). Here we discuss, under Massachusetts law, whether consortium claims are limited by “per person” policy limits covering the injured person’s bodily injury, or the higher “per accident” limits covering injuries to two or more people resulting from the accident.

For example, Mrs. Smith is driving with passenger Mrs. Jones, when both are injured in an accident. Mrs. Smith’s policy covers her injuries up to her $100,000 “per person” limit and also Mrs. Jones’ injuries up to Mrs. Smith’s $300,000 “per accident” limit. When Mr. Smith files a claim for loss of consortium, is he subject to the $100,000 “per person” limit or the $300,000 “per accident” limit?

Massachusetts has determined that consortium claims are subject to “per person” limits. McNeill v. Metropolitan Prop. and Liability Ins., 650 N.E.2d 793 (1995). Although recognizably distinct injuries, consortium injuries are a “by-product of” the injured person’s bodily injury. Id. at 796.

Therefore in our example, Mr. Smith’s claims are limited by Mrs. Smith’s $100,000 “per person” limit. Family members should be aware of these limits when valuing their claims with a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer.