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DeFelice v. Beall

Decided: July 11, 1994.

STEPHANIE DEFELICE, ADMINISTRATOR AD PROSEQUENDUM OF THE ESTATE OF CRAIG DEFELICE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
LANA J. BEALL AND NEW JERSEY AUTOMOBILE FULL INSURANCE UNDERWRITERS ASSOCIATION (JUA), JOINTLY, SEVERALLY AND/OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County.

Before Judges King, Havey and A. M. Stein.

Stein

The opinion of the court was delivered by A. M. STEIN, J.A.D.

We affirm the order of the motion Judge denying plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment as to liability limits.

We reject plaintiff's contention that each of decedent's dependents has an independent cause of action under the Wrongful Death Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:31-1 to -6, and thus should be entitled to coverage under the "per accident" provision of the automobile insurance policy, and that each dependent may recover for loss of advice, services and companionship. We conclude that all of the dependents' claims are subject to the "per person" limit of the policy because such claims are derivative and dependent upon the direct injury to the decedent.

On December 4, 1990, Craig DeFelice collided with an automobile driven by defendant Lana J. Beall. He died later that day as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident. He was survived by his widow, two teenage children of a previous marriage and one infant child.

Beall was insured by a policy issued on behalf of the New Jersey Automobile Insurance Underwriters Association (JUA). Her policy had liability coverage limits of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. The policy provides:

A. We will pay damages for "bodily injury" or "property damage" for which any "insured" becomes legally responsible because of an auto accident.

Bodily injury is defined as "bodily harm, sickness or disease, including death that results."

The insurance policy contains specific provisions relating to its limits of liability. It provides that:

A. The limit of liability shown in the Declarations for this coverage is our maximum limit of liability for all damages resulting from any one auto accident. This is the most we will pay regardless of the number of:

1. "Insureds;"

2. Claims made;

3. Vehicles or premiums shown in the ...


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