Injury Victim Compensation: Bringing A Loss of Consortium Claim

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It’s 5:00 p.m., your wife just got out of work and she is on the way home for dinner. However, instead of arriving home at the usual time, the hospital calls informing you that she was involved a major car accident. You rush to the hospital to find your wife sleeping in a bed and surrounded by nurses. The doctor on duty comes in and tells you that she suffered head trauma and a broken leg. She will require many months of medical care and rehabilitation. Aside from being emotionally devastated, your family will suffer in countless ways from losing your spouse's support and care. If the other driver caused the accident, you may recover monetary compensation for the loss of companionship and affection.

What is Loss of Consortium?

Loss of consortium is the loss suffered by an individual after his or her spouse has died or been injured due to another person’s wrongful, negligent, or intentional act. The claim arises when a physically injured person cannot, because of the injury, provide his or her spouse with the services, companionship, love, affection and sexual relations enjoyed before the accident.

Who Can Bring a Loss of Consortium Claim?

Loss of consortium claims may be brought by spouses as well as by children and parents.

1.  Spouses

Proving Loss of Consortium:

In order to determine whether a person has lost his or her partner's consortium in connection with a personal injury case, it is necessary to make an objective comparison between the state of the marriage before and after the injured party's injuries were sustained.

To succeed in a claim for loss of consortium, the claimant spouse must prove:

1.  He/she and the injured person were married at the time of the injury.

2.  The claimant spouse must prove any or all of the following types of damages:

(a)  By “clear and convincing evidence” that the claimant suffered specific damages in the form of loss of affection, society, companionship and “aid and comfort” of the injured spouse because of the his or her injuries. This may include an assessment of the marriage from the perspective of the parties' overall relationship in terms of shared interests, time spent together, and emotional closeness. Another factor may be the diminution or cessation of sexual relations.

(b)  The claimant can also bring a loss of consortium claim by proving “economic damages” for the loss of household services the injured spouse would have performed. This may include an analysis of the household and family services formerly performed by the injured spouse.

(c)  The claimant incurred expenses, or will incur such expenses in the future, because of the other spouse’s injuries. This will include an assessment of economic dependence on the injured spouse.

A loss of consortium claim is usually not a significant one unless the physically injured spouse has suffered a devastating, long-lasting injury such as paralysis, incontinence, loss of sexual function or inability to walk. It's important for spouses to understand that if a loss of consortium claim is pursued, they will be required to divulge very personal—and sometimes even embarrassing—facts about their married life.

2. Children and Parents

In such a circumstance, the child or parent would argue that his or her injured parent or child is no longer able to provide the same level of care, nurturing, and affection as he or she provided prior to the injury. In this situation, the child or parent would have to show that the parent/child relationship was irrevocably altered by the physical injury.

To bring a consortium claim, the child/plaintiff must show that the defendant injured the child's parent in a manner that would subject the defendant to liability under ordinary tort principles.

The injury to the parent must cause severe damage to the parent-child relationship.

The child may recover for the loss of the parent's love, affection, protection, support, services, companionship, care, and society.

In determining the amount of damages to award the child, relevant factors include, but are not limited to, the child's age, the nature of the child's relationship with the parent, the child's emotional and physical characteristics, and whether other consortium-giving relationships are available for the child. Villareal v. State, Dep't of Transp., 160 Ariz. 474, 481–82, 774 P.2d 213, 220–21 (1989).

Loss of Consortium Award Examples:

Superior Court jury returned a verdict for Victor Ruff in June 2005 for patient who received drug overdose, awarding him $1.65 million. Ruff v. Wickenburg Regional Medical Center, 2005 WL 2179058.

Trail court awarded Wife $150,000.00 for loss of consortium after Husband had to get his lower leg amputated due to a truck collision. Miranda v. Villanueva, 2008 WL 5156519.

Contact Quintana Law About Your Loss of Consortium Claim

Claims for loss of consortium will differ case by case, so it's important to get professional help from an attorney that will represent your family’s best interests.  If you or a loved one has been injured and someone else was at fault, contact Quintana Law for a FREE consultation at (602) 418-0733. We can help.