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Florida Fifth DCA rules that AAA automobile liability insurance policy clause limiting coverage to $100,000 per person provided single per person liability limit for loss of consortium claims of parents of decedent

On December 13, 2019, in Auto Club Insurance Company of Florida v. Estate of Lewis, No. 5D18-3439, the Florida Fifth DCA reversed a summary judgment entered against an insurance company in a declaratory judgment action. The declaratory judgment action was brought to determine the extent of AAA’s liability pursuant to the automobile insurance policy held by its insured, who was alleged in a separate wrongful death action to have negligently caused the death of the decedent while operating his vehicle. That action included loss of consortium claims on behalf of the decedent’s parents. The limits of liability under the policy were $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence. AAA contended that, under the terms of the policy, the decedent’s parents’ loss of consortium claims are subject to a single per person liability limit. The estate successfully argued to the trial court that the decedent’s loss of consortium claims are separate “bodily injury” claims such that their claims are not subject to a single per person limit. The Fifth DCA disagreed, noting that the term “bodily injury” is plainly and unambiguously defined in the Definitions section of the policy to mean “bodily harm, sickness or disease, including death therefrom.” The Fifth DCA concluded that the $100,000 bodily injury limit was meant to apply to the person actually injured in the accident and that any damages resulting therefrom, including loss of consortium damages for relatives, was meant to be included in and covered by the injured party’s $100,000 cap. The Fifth DCA cited in support the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in New Amsterdam Cas. Co. v. Hart, 16 So. 2d 118 (Fla. 1943) (husband’s consortium damages were subject to policy’s $5,000 limit on wife’s injuries).

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