Loss of Consortium Claims
A loss of consortium claim is a very specific claim that refers to the loss of your spouse or close loved one, whether that is by death or due to severe injury that impairs your life together. When a loss of consortium claim is filed, it means that a spouse has been robbed of companionship with their injured partner due to the negligence of another party. This type of pain and suffering claim targets the immense loss of time, intimacy, and enjoyment of a lifelong partnership.
When a loss of consortium claim is presented, the court will decide on the severity of the claim and the amount of compensation owed to the victim. Loss of consortium claims are most commonly made by marriage partners, but some states also allow domestic partners, children, and parents of victims to make a claim. Since eligibility criteria varies from state to state, it’s best to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney to see what your options are.
Types of Loss of Consortium Claims
What exactly qualifies for a loss of consortium claim? Here are a few of the factors that a jury will consider:
Loss of Intimacy in the Relationship
If an accident has left the victim unable to enjoy a healthy sex life with their spouse, this can be cause for a loss of consortium claim. These claims are more common than one might think: Spine injuries can often leave victims unable to engage in strenuous activity such as sexual relations. The loss of a sexual relationship within a marriage can cause depression and feelings of mistrust.
Loss of Companionship
The ability to spend time and share activities with your partner is a core part of any relationship. If a victim has been injured to the point where they cannot engage in the kinds of regular activities that they previously enjoyed, then their partner suffers too. Missing out on these parts of life is a loss: and one that can qualify for a loss of consortium claim. This extends to the loss of comfort, support, solace, and society that a partner would have experienced with their spouse if the accident had not happened.
Loss of Assistance or Service
Spouses help each other through the day-to-day, and as partners, take on roles within the house. If one partner assists the other with daily activities, performs regular chores like cleaning the house or mowing the lawn, the loss of these services can qualify for a loss of consortium claim.
Those who can prove a loss of consortium claim can recover compensation that could help to rebuild the lives they once enjoyed. In some cases, service workers such as housekeepers or lawn care workers could be hired, therapists can be retained. A loss of consortium claim can help get your lives back to a new normal.
Proving Loss of Consortium
While you cannot put a price on love, the court will need to designate an amount to compensate for how an injury or death impacted your relationship. This can involve asking questions of family, friends, and professionals that were familiar with your relationship.
A loss of consortium claim can result in a review of marital history in court. From hobbies to abuse, the details of your relationship will be openly discussed. While this can be difficult for surviving spouses, it is important that the process is carried out to help prove your case. Questions that may arise include:
- Were you in a marriage or domestic partnership?
- Was the victim your parent or child?
- How stable is the relationship?
- How long has the relationship been?
- Did you participate in specific activities together that you can no longer enjoy?
- What frequency of intimacy did you experience before the injury?
- Were there any claims of abuse during the relationship?
Providing honest and complete answers to these questions can help to establish your loss of consortium claim.
Professionals that could be consulted to speak on behalf of your loss of consortium claim include marriage counselors, doctors, and even family accountants.
Compensation for Loss of Consortium
No one can put a price on the value of our loved ones, but a settlement recovery can mean easing back into a new life together. The amount of compensation for loss of consortium claims varies from state to state.
In New York, for example, there is no cap on non-economic damages like loss of consortium or pain and suffering. This means that a jury can decide what is fair compensation without limitation. States differ in their approach, so you should consult a personal injury lawyer to find out what the laws are in your state concerning loss of consortium.
Loss of Consortium Examples
The nuances of loss of consortium can be complex—what is considered a loss in the quality of a life-long partnership? Here are a few examples of how loss of consortium can work.
A hypothetical loss of consortium scenario:
A husband and wife were married for 4 years and enjoyed an active lifestyle together that included running marathons together. After a car accident, the wife suffered a back injury that prevented her from running.
The couple could no longer run marathons together, and thus could not train together, travel to race locations, and bond over their won medals. In this example, the husband could file a loss of consortium claim: He and his wife lost the ability to enjoy an experience they had long shared and intended to partake in for many years.
Real life loss of consortium results:
- A client of Block O’Toole & Murphy suffered multiple injuries after a car accident in New Castle, New York, including a brain hemorrhage and leg and hip fractures. As a result of his injuries, his wife claimed a loss of consortium and service.
- Our client was hit by a brick that fell from overhead scaffolding. As a result, he suffered spine and facial injuries and was awarded a total settlement of $3,411,000. His family also claimed a loss of consortium as he was no longer able to play with his children.
How to File a Loss of Consortium Claim
The first step in recovering compensation for a loss of consortium claim is to contact a skilled attorney. An experienced law firm can guide you through the process, let you know what to expect, and help with the types of paperwork you will need to surface to prove a loss of consortium claim.
The loss of consortium claim is made by the spouse, not the victim of the accident. This claim regards a loss of companionship, separate from the personal injury claim made on behalf of the victim.
Legal procedures surrounding loss of consortium can be difficult to understand and navigate. The experienced attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy can guide you and your partner through a claim with respect and compassion.
Select cases that the firm handled that included loss of consortium claims include:
- $4,995,000 settlement for a construction worker who fell as a result of unsteady flooring
- $3,411,000 settlement for a man injured by a brick that fell from scaffolding
- $1,350,000 settlement for a pedestrian hit by a school bus while crossing the street