What Are Loss of Consortium Claims?

Category: Personal Injury

Article by Tuley Law staff

What Are Loss of Consortium Claims?

The relationship between you and your spouse plays a significant role in determining your overall happiness and quality of life. So it is understandable that if your spouse suffers a severe injury or death, it can have a significant impact on your life as well. As a result, in certain circumstances, you may be entitled to make a claim for loss of consortium.

Loss of consortium claims are civil actions brought by a spouse of an individual who has been seriously injured or killed due to another’s negligence. 

The plaintiff in these claims seeks compensation for the loss of the victim’s companionship, affection, emotional support, comfort, and sexual relations due to the trauma or death suffered. 

Instead, consortium damages typically fall into three categories: 

  1. Loss of services – Before the injury or death, your partner likely helped perform household duties. The consortium claim compensates you for losses due to the absence of their services, such as childcare, home maintenance, transportation, etc.
  2. Loss of support – In this category, the victim’s potential financial contribution to the household is estimated if they were not injured or killed by the defendant.
  3. Loss of quality – Finally, consortium damages also estimate the emotional toll of the injury or death. You cannot calculate a marriage in dollars. . Nonetheless, it  typically involves love, affection, sexual intercourse, and the ability to ask for guidance.

Filial consortium damages allow you to put a monetary number on these valuable relationships. This restitution provides financial relief and a sense of closure to help those affected cope with their grief and loss.

Example of Loss of Consortium Case

Villaseca v. City of New York

Diane Villaseca filed a loss of consortium case after a student severely injured her husband while he was teaching. The injury was from a door being slammed in his face resulting in him losing his vision. The school failed to maintain the door’s hydraulic controller,  which would have prevented the injury. 

After a lengthy and complex trial in Bronx County, Diane Villaseca was initially awarded an impressive sum of $1.8 million for her loss of consortium claim. Her husband received $8 million in compensatory damages for his injury. 

Diane presented evidence about their marriage and the challenges they had because of his inability to perform marital duties.  She also showed how such a drastic lifestyle change caused emotional stress. She had taken on full responsibility for her husband’s care, including domestic chores, cooking, and assisting him with his mobility needs.

Villaseca’s award for her loss of consortium case against the City of New York was reduced on appeal to $750,000 ($250,000 for past losses and $500,000 for future losses). The court reasoned these responsibilities did not necessarily equate to an actual monetary value or replace what would have been provided if Villaseca’s husband had remained healthy. 

How Are Loss of Consortium Damages Calculated?

Calculating the loss of consortium is complicated because how do you put a monetary value on intangible things like affection? 

Consortium damages begin by calculating the nature, duration, and severity of the injury sustained by the victim. 

Generally speaking, these damages are determined by evaluating how much the plaintiff’s relationship with their spouse has been affected by their injury. 

A court might look at whether the person who was hurt can no longer do activities they could do before the accident. For example, they might be unable to participate in fun activities or offer emotional support to their loved ones. A judge or jury might also consider the spouses’ living arrangement, the couple’s expectancy, and their care and companionship for one another.  

In addition, courts will also consider whether any financial losses have been incurred due to decreased quality of life or additional medical expenses related to the injury. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that each case is different when considering a claim for loss of consortium damages. What may be a fair amount of compensation in one case may not be the same in another. 

Also, laws may limit non-economic damages in a personal injury case. Because of the complexity of these claims, it helps to consult with an attorney. At Tuley Law Office, we’ve helped our clients navigate the requirements for claiming consortium damages and compensatory damages in their cases. 

Who Can Make a Loss of Consortium Claim?

In Indiana, loss of consortium is only available to spouses. Some states have extended loss of consortium claim eligibility to children or parents. 

In cases involving spouses, the claim often centers on the inability to share intimacy, have children, and enjoy companionship. You are often still eligible to file a loss of consortium claim even if the relationship returns to how it was before the accident. 

In other states, children and parents who make loss of consortium claims often do so because they can no longer engage in activities and shared experiences with their loved ones. Depending on the jurisdiction, filing requirements and eligibility for this type of legal action vary significantly. 

What Are The Limitations For Loss Of Consortium Claims?

In many states, a person must be legally married to the injured person at the time of the accident or injury to file a claim for loss of consortium.  These claims may be further limited depending on the insurance policy limits.

Depending on where you live, you may also have to meet specific criteria to file a loss of consortium claim. For example, you may have to prove that you suffered emotional trauma or that the injury made you unable to engage in physical intimacy. 

When it comes to the limits of loss of consortium claims, all liability policies have a maximum amount that can be recovered for any single incident. This means that the injured party can only be compensated up to the insurance policy’s limit. This is so even if they have suffered significant losses due to their partner’s or loved one’s lack of companionship, comfort, and/or support. 

Also, even if the damages exceed this limit, the at-fault party may have personal assets to cover additional damages not covered by their insurance policy. It is crucial to know these limits when considering any legal action for loss of consortium claims.

What Should You Consider When Filing a Loss of Consortium Claim

Before filing a loss of consortium claim, consider how personal and sensitive your relationship is and whether you are willing to answer detailed questions about it in court or during a deposition from a defense lawyer.  Sometimes, even if there is a loss, for example, with sexual intimacy, some parties do not feel comfortable detailing those losses in front of other people.

Carefully consider any embarrassment these questions may cause and the emotional strain of revealing intimate details about your marriage or relationship.  

How to Prove Loss of Consortium 

Proving the loss of consortium can take time and effort. You might be asked to provide medical records, witness testimony from family and friends, expert testimony from doctors or counselors, photographs, and videos. 

For example, you and your spouse enjoyed traveling together regularly, and now you can’t. You can show all the photographs of your trips together and share why this change in your life will be detrimental to your relationship. 

You’ll also have to prove how long you’ve been together and that you are partners who support each other and live together.

How To Proceed With Filing A Loss Of Consortium Claim

To file a claim for loss of consortium, your lawyer must prove that the defendant is at fault for the injury. You must show proof of all medical and related expenses and all other needed elements of a personal injury case. 

You might also need to provide information like: 

  • The severity of the injury to demonstrate how it has impacted both your and your loved one’s lives. 
  • Evidence that proves how this injury has affected your relationship with your loved one, such as the inability to carry out previously shared activities or companionship. 
  • How both parties suffered financial losses due to the injury to establish any rightful compensation or damages.

To file a claim for loss of consortium, it is best to talk to a qualified personal injury lawyer. They will guide you through your specific case and explain the possible outcomes of such a suit.

An experienced attorney at Tuley Law Office can guide you through the process of filing a claim and explain what to expect in court. 

Our team may suggest strategies to help you receive the compensation you deserve.  Loss of consortium cases can be complicated, and having legal representation is critical for a successful outcome. 

Reach Out to the Personal Injury Lawyers at Tuley Law Office in Evansville, Indiana

Moving forward with a loss of consortium case can be very challenging, especially when the person you lean on may not be there to do so.

Tuley Law Office shares decades of experience with its attorneys in helping their clients achieve the compensation they deserve for loss of consortium and related personal injury lawsuits. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing a loss of consortium due to another person’s negligence, contact the Evansville, Indiana, personal attorneys at Tuley Law Office.

Contact us today for a no-cost case evaluation by calling (812) 625-2113 or filling out an online form.

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