Loss of Consortium
Here is an extremely important new opinion from the Kentucky Supreme Court which completely changes the landscape on loss of consortium (LOC) claims. The common law rule allowed for spousal LOC claims only during the lifetime of the spouse â€“ but did not extend past the spouseâ€™s death. Thus, if a negligent act caused the hasty death of the spouse, then the claim may have little value. Additionally, the traditional common law rule allowed LOC claims only for husbands. In 1970, the common law rule was expanded to give wives the same claim â€“ and the same year the legislature enacted KRS 411.145 allowing both husbands and wives to assert LOC claims. Until now the statute has been interpreted to follow the common law rule of cutting off LOC claims at the spouseâ€™s death.
That has now changed. In this case, the Supreme Court noted that the statute is silent on the timeframe to be encompassed by the claim â€“ and consequently ruled that KRS 411.145 ALLOWS post-death LOC claims because LOC damages do not cease at the death of the spouse. (â€œFull compensation cannot be had if damages claimed are required to terminate at death.â€ â€œThe loss that comes from wrongly depriving a spouse of her relationship with her husband, or vice versa, is definable and measurable.â€ The statute â€œprovides liability for wrongfully depriving or cutting short the marital relationship.â€)