Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Nevada Loss Of Consortium Claims Are Derivative

An adjuster just sent Mike Mills the following question.

Loss of Consortium in Nevada, Nevada Insurance Law, Mills & Associates Nevada Insurance and Coverage Lawyers 702-240-6060Hi, Mike!  Hope you are doing well.  I just had a quick question for you about loss of consortium claims in NV.  I understand that they are derivative of the injured person’s claim.  My question is this:

If we are settling an injured party’s bodily injury claim and we know he is married, do we need the wife’s signature on the release to protect our insd from any possible future claim of loss of consortium or other derivative claims?  If her signature is required to protect the insd, what is our recourse when an atty refuses to allow the wife to sign the release?

One of my adjusters indicated “per state statute” the spouse isn’t required to sign the release but he hasn’t been able to tell me which statute he is referring to.

Thanks for your help!

Mike Mills had the answer:

I’ve been well.  Busy, but well.  I hope things are well with you also.

Loss of consortium claims are derivative in Nevada.  I do not know of a statute that says so.  But case law sure does.

See the case of Gunlock v. New Frontier Hotel, 78 Nev. 182, 185 n.1, 370 P.2d 682, 684 n.1 (1962)

In that case, Mrs. Gunlock fell and injured herself.  The husband sued for loss of consortium.  The judge granted summary judgment against Mrs. G.  Mr. G’s claim were dismissed along with hers.

The court said:

“1  Mr. Gunlock’s claim for relief was for his wife’s medical expenses and loss of consortium. Such claim was dependent upon the success of his wife’s claim. Her claim not having been established, his must fail as well.”

The Gunlock case is still good law in Nevada.  We know that because the Nevada Supreme Court referred to it just a three years ago in the case of Fierle v. Perez, 125 Nev. Adv. Op. 54, 219 P.3d 906 (2009), where they said

“2 Regarding loss of consortium claims, in Turner v. Mandalay Sports Entm’t, we determined that a spouse’s claim for loss of consortium is derivative, and thus, its success is dependent on the other spouse having a valid cause of action against the defendant. 124 Nev. ___, ___ n.31, 180 P.3d 1172, 1178 n.31 (2008) (citing Gunlock v. New Frontier Hotel, 78 Nev. 182, 185 n.1, 370 P.2d 682, 684 n.1 (1962)). Thus, we conclude that because of the derivative nature of the claims, only the loss of consortium claims that arise from the surviving res ipsa loquitur claims endure on remand.”

In other words, when the injured spouse releases his / her claim, whether the spouse signs or not, the spouse’s claim is gone too.  No need to bother getting the spouse’s signature.  Out of an abundance of caution, I would get a spouse’s signature if the case were in litigation and the non-injured spouse had formally asserted a consortium claim.

A different rule would apply if it were a wrongful death case.  But that only makes sense, since the dead spouse isn’t going to be signing any releases!

Please call or write if you have other questions.

If you have questions, please write of give us a call at Mills & Associates.  We’ll try to answer your questions too.

Mills & Associates Nevada Insurance Lawyers 702-240-6060

About Michael Mills

Mr. Mills practices in the area of civil litigation and appeals, with particular experience in matters involving trucking liability, insurance defense, insurance coverage, premises liability, products liability and defense of personal injury. Mr. Mills is a member of the Trucking Insurance Defense Association, the Defense Research Institute Trucking Committee and the Nevada Motor Transport Association. Mr. Mills is licensed to practice before the Nevada Supreme Court and the Utah Supreme Court. He is also licensed to appear before the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. District Courts for the Districts of Nevada and Utah, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Mills has created 3 Blogs for the benefit of the insurance industry. He serves as editor and publisher of the Nevada Insurance Law Blog, the Nevada Coverage and Bad Faith Blog and the Nevada Trucking Law Blog.

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