Many people, who have never suffered or had a family member suffer a serious personal injury due to the negligence of another person or a business, have never consider the extreme loss, disruption and even sometimes devastation that a serious personal injury can have on a husband or wife and the family as a whole. But once a severe injury occurs to a family member, it becomes quite apparent to all of those that are close to the family the significant impact is made upon the loved ones.
As a personal injury law firm we see this impact on the family members quite often. We’re obliged to discuss the husband or wife that the injury to their spouse has also given rise to a claim of their own despite not actually being involved in the car, truck, or motorcycle accident. In many cases, a spouse who was not directly involved in the accident may still have a claim known as “loss of consortium.” This claim is for the non-physically injured husband or wife a claim for the injuries to their spouse because he or she has lost the society, companionship, fellowship, conjugal relationship and services of the injured spouse.
Historically, the Georgia Appellate and Trial Courts have struggled with whether a loss of consortium claim is a separate injury, or a single indivisible injury. Several years ago, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed prior case law holding that a consortium claim is, for purposes of uninsured motorist benefits, a single injury. See, Mullinax v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, Company. This is very important to married persons of a spouse who has been severely injured because, in Georgia, before an injury victim may receive benefits under his or her uninsured motorist policy, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits must be completely exhausted. If, for example, the at-fault driver’s policy is $25,000, the entire $25,000 must be paid out before the injured victim can recover money from their uninsured motorist carrier.
So, consider a situation where the full amount of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy is paid to the injured wife, if the loss of consortium claim was a separate injury, the husband would have no claim to assert. However, now based on the Mullinax case, the husband can assert his loss of consortium claim against the Uninsured/underinsured insurance policy.
If your husband or wife has been severely injured in an automobile accident and the at-fault driver’s insurance policy is not sufficient to fully compensate your injured spouse’s and/or your losses, you may be entitled to use your own uninsured or underinsured automobile insurance coverage. For more information about uninsured motorist benefits, please contact The Mark Casto Law Firm, PC at (706) 940-4002.