Personal injuries caused by accidents, negligence, and wrong acts can result in a variety of damages. Damages include economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages. Damages also include non-economic losses, like pain and suffering.
Loss of consortium is included in the category of non-economic damages. These claims are filed by the family members of an injured person. The claim seeks compensation for the deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship.
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What is a Loss of Consortium Claim?
When a person sustains an injury, that person may be unable to engage in the same activities as before the injury. For example, a spinal cord injury caused by a car accident could result in paralysis. The individual may no longer be able to engage in a sexual relationship with their spouse.
A parent could sustain a traumatic brain injury in a slip and fall accident. Say the parent’s brain injury results in cognitive, behavioral, and emotional impairments. The result is that the parent cannot provide the same loving and compassionate care for other family members because of the injury. The child loses the benefit of parental guidance, while the person’s spouse is suffering a loss of companionship.
A loss of consortium claim is a separate action filed by a spouse or a child in addition to a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit.
California Does Not Permit Loss of Consortium Claims by Children
It must be noted that while many states allow a parent or child to file for loss of consortium, California does not. California law states explicitly that only spouses and registered partners can file claims for loss of consortium. While the legal definition of loss of consortium may apply to family members or family relationships, California laws do not permit claims from children.
What Damages Are Available for a Loss of Consortium Claim?
An injured person’s spouse can file a separate cause of action seeking compensation for damages they have experienced because of the injuries to the injured spouse.
Damages in loss of consortium cases include compensation for:
- Loss of sexual relations with an injured spouse
- Loss of companionship
- Inability to contribute to household chores or care for children
- Loss of moral support, comfort, and assistance
- Loss of care, love, and affection
- Inability to have children
The above list is just a few examples of how an injury to one spouse can negatively impact the marital relationship. An injury lawyer can review the changes in your relationship that might support a loss of consortium claim.
Proving Liability and Damages for a Loss of Consortium Claim
Before a spouse can recover compensation for damages, you must prove the following legal elements:
- You were legally married to your spouse or have a registered domestic partnership at the time of your spouse’s injury or death
- The defendant’s negligence or wrongdoing injured your spouse
- The specific ways that the relationship changed that resulted in the loss of consortium
- The defendant’s negligence or wrongdoing that injured your spouse also caused your loss of consortium
Proving that the defendant is liable for your spouse’s injury or death relies on the evidence from the personal injury case. The challenging aspect is proving how you and your spouse’s relationship has changed and that the injury is the cause of the change.
Your testimony, along with testimony from family and friends, can be used to establish how the injury has impacted your relationship. Your lawyer also provides guidance and helps you develop your testimony to give the jury members a clear understanding of how devastating your spouse’s injury has been for you.
Comparative Negligence Claims
If your spouse was partially at fault for the cause of the injury or accident, your loss of consortium claim could be reduced. California’s comparative negligence laws apply in loss of consortium cases. Your recovery will be reduced by your spouse’s percentage of fault for the accident.
Common Accidents and Situations That Lead to Loss of Consortium Claims
Any accident or injury that substantially affects a person’s ability to perform activities as a spouse can lead to a loss of consortium case.
Examples of personal injury cases that may give rise to a claim for loss of consortium include:
- Car accidents
- Defective product claims
- Slip and fall injuries
- Boating accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Train accidents
- Amusement park accidents
- Assault and acts of violence
Loss of consortium claims are subject to the state’s statute of limitations. You must file your claims before the deadline, or you lose the right to seek compensation for your losses.
Call Our San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
A loss of consortium claim can be challenging to win. However, you and your spouse may be entitled to substantial compensation for the losses caused by personal injuries. Our experienced attorneys at Mission Personal Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help you with your case.