Accidents are part of life and people have to live with its consequences not just physical injuries or pain but emotional trauma as well. When you are going through a rough patch in your life, it not only affects your life but the lives of your loved ones. In such situations, your relationship with your spouse may also get strained.
A spouse can then make a legal claim concerning the injury and the impactful reasons for their relationship. This kind of damage is called loss of consortium. Let’s find out what the term loss of consortium means, how you can prove it and how to calculate the loss of consortium to make claims for.
What is a loss of consortium?
In scenarios where a spouse of a personal injury victim makes claims against another party’s negligence for the damages, it is known as loss of consortium.
Sustainable and lingering injuries entail permanent ramifications towards the relationship of a victim and their domestic partner. Some of the damages include:
- Loss of companionship
- Marital status
- Unable to perform activities together (such as going for traveling, biking, walks, etc.)
- Inability to bear or conceive child(ren)
- Sexual constraints
Loss of consortium aims to compensate spouses when an injury or physical harm disturbs their relationship due to the negligence of a third party. These losses are taken as ‘general’ or ‘non-domestic damages. This is the same category in which pain and suffering damages are kept, as it is difficult to determine the monetary impact.
Loss of consortium derives from the claims of the injured victim. This means, if the victim wins the personal injury claim then only the spouse will get the compensation for loss of consortium. If the victim fails to make successful claims, then loss of consortium damages cannot be compensated.
How to prove loss of consortium?
It can be complicated sometimes to prove the loss of consortium as it gets difficult to determine the monetary value of your sufferings. Plus, digging your past and probing into things to compare to the present in front of the court also becomes a delicate subject for some.
Typically, a plaintiff should demonstrate a combination of four items in order to successfully make claims for loss of consortium, including:
- A valid domestic or marital relationship
- The domestic partner of the personal injury victim suffered a loss of consortium
- The victim received the injury due to the negligence of someone else
- The loss of consortium is claimed due to the lingering injuries of the victim
In a loss of consortium scenario, the jury is responsible to identify whether the spouse actually suffered the loss of consortium due to the injury? That means that the jury has to identify whether the marriage suffered the problems before the injury or not. While making convictions, the judge will consider some factors and compel the spouse to respond to the testimony under oath. This may include:
- Was the marriage before injury stable?
- How long have they been in a legal relationship?
- What kind of activities do they share before the injury that is impacted?
- What were the standards of living?
- Was there any abusive history of the spouse or the couple?
To prove the case to the court or to win the loss of consortium claim, the spouse has to provide the evidence to demonstrate the intensity to which the injury has affected their relationship/marriage. This evidence may include eyewitnesses from family, friends, or medical records to testify the relationship. Only after determining the situation, the court may award financial compensation and it varies.
Who else can claim the loss of consortium?
Several states allow three individuals who can potentially claim for the loss of consortium:
Married spouse: the most common loss of consortium claims are the ones that are claimed by the marital partner. As long as the person is married to the personal injury victim, s/he can claim for the loss of consortium.
Domestic partner: In certain states, the courts allow the domestic partners to claim for the loss of consortium. Domestic partners are the ones who live in a house, share their lives together but are not married.
Parents or children: some states have allowed claims for loss of consortium submissions from the parents and the children of the victim.
State requirements can vary for the eligibility to make claims for the loss of consortium. You must consult a personal injury attorney to make a claim.
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