Loss of consortium is a legal term used to describe a specific type of damages suffered by the spouses of personal injury plaintiffs. Essentially, loss of consortium works like this: An individual suffers a catastrophic an debilitating injury, which indirectly causes injury to his or her spouse due to the loss of the various benefits received through marriage.
Loss of consortium damages are usually included by naming the spouse as an additional plaintiff on the injured person's personal injury claim. The claim will also need to include various arguments to establish the nature and extent of the uninjured spouse's damages.
What kinds of damages does loss of consortium cover?
Although marriage and long-term relationships certainly come with their share of challenges, the benefits are numerous. In fact, spouses not only receive a wide variety of emotional benefits, but they also benefit financially through the different services employed by their spouses completely free of charge.
Imagine that a 35-year-old mother of two and homemaker becomes permanently paralyzed from the neck down in an auto collision. Let's look at the various marital benefits her spouse will lose as a result. This person's spouse will experience:
- Loss of enjoyment of life due to not being able to enjoy the many activities the couple formerly did together.
- Loss of marital benefits, like loss of affection and loss of sexual relationship.
- Loss of childcare services formerly performed by the spouse.
- Loss of household services, like help with cooking and cleaning.
- Loss of driving services due to the spouse not being able to take the children to school and other activities.
- Loss of other benefits performed by the spouse, like home maintenance, accounting and bookkeeping services and other services depending on the situation.
Determining damages in a loss of consortium suit
Because many of the damages referenced in a loss of consortium claim will be emotional in nature, it can be difficult to pinpoint an exact dollar amount of the losses. However, with the aid of expert witnesses and financial experts, uninjured spouses may be able to establish a fair amount of money as compensation for the nature of their loss.
Ultimately, the success of a loss of consortium claim will depend on a variety of factors, like the health of the injured spouse before the accident, the length of time the couple has been married, the strength of their relationship and the age of the couple. As with all personal injury law matters, the more plaintiffs understand their cases and the laws that apply to their situations, the better capable they will be of navigating their legal claims.