Have you ever considered whether an adult child could bring a lawsuit for the wrongful injury of his or her parent? In Montana, the answer is “yes”, provided certain conditions are met.
In the winter of 2014, the Montana Supreme Court issued an opinion in a case involving a father who had been injured when another vehicle crossed the center line and hit his truck head-on. The father suffered severe injuries, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), plus several conditions and psychological issues secondary to TBI. He had multiple surgeries after the accident, he could no longer drive, and he required around-the-clock supervision. The father had two daughters, who were 15 and 18 at the time of the crash.
The father filed a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, as well as his own. The policy on which he was covered included a provision for underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). This type of coverage is designed to allow an insured to recover damages from his or her insurer when another driver’s insurance coverage is not adequate. The 18-year-old daughter claimed damages under this provision, asserting that she was an insured family member who could recover under the policy.
The Court discussed the father’s pre-accident relationship with his 18-year-old daughter extensively, explaining that the two had shared a very close relationship, spending time together every day. The Court contrasted their pre-accident relationship with their post-accident relationship. After the accident, the daughter was unable to finish college and had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions as a result of her father’s accident. Indeed, the Court explained, the family dynamics had shifted significantly. As a result of the father’s injuries, the mother was busy taking care of him, leaving her unavailable to provide love and counsel the couple’s children.
Ultimately, the Court held that the adult daughter could recover damages under the insurance policy for the serious, permanent, disabling injury of her father. However, Court limited its holding to parental impairments that “destroyed or nearly destroyed” the parent-child relationship.
The attorneys at Tipp & Buley understand the importance of close familial relationships and the law that applies to those relationships. We stand ready to assist you in seeking a legal remedy for the damages you have suffered, including the destruction of the parent-child relationship due to the wrongful conduct of another. To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, call our Missoula law office at 406-389-4215 or visit our website.