A spouse can make a legal claim regarding an injury and its impact on their relationship. This type of damage is known as loss of consortium.
In this article, we’ll discuss the loss of consortium definition, ways to prove loss of consortium, and how to understand what a claim for loss of consortium is.
What is Loss of Consortium
The loss of consortium legal definition is when a spouse or domestic partner of a personal injury victim makes a claim for damages due to another party’s negligence. Injuries sustained by the victim can have permanent ramifications to the relationship between the victim and the spouse. Some of these ramifications can include:
- Marital strains
- Loss of companionship
- Unable to do activities together (i.e. going for walks, biking, traveling, etc.)
- Sexual constraints
- Inability to bear children
Loss of consortium aims to compensate spouses or domestic partners when an injury to their spouse significantly disrupts their relationship. These losses are considered “non-economic” or “general” damages – the same category as pain and suffering damages – since it is difficult to put a monetary value on them.
It’s important to note that loss of consortium is derivative of the injured victim’s claim. This means the spouse can only seek loss of consortium damages if the injured victim wins their personal injury claim. If the injured victim fails in making a successful claim, the spouse cannot recover damages for loss of consortium.
How to Prove Loss of Consortium
Proving loss of consortium can be tricky since it is difficult to put a monetary value on your suffering. Moreover, probing into your marital past and bringing it up to the courts can be a sensitive matter for some.
In general, the plaintiff must demonstrate four items to make a successful claim for loss of consortium:
- There is a valid marriage or domestic relationship.
- The victim suffered an injury due to the negligence of another party.
- The spouse of the victim suffered a loss of consortium.
- The loss of consortium is due to the injury sustained by the victim.
How does the judge or jury determine whether a spouse suffered a loss of consortium caused by the injury? In other words, how do you prove your marriage did indeed suffer because of the injury to your spouse? The courts will consider the following factors when making their decision:
- How long have you been married?
- Was your marriage stable?
- What types of activities did you do together prior to the injury?
- What were the living arrangements?
- Was there any history of abuse in the relationship?
The spouse will need to provide evidence for the factors above to demonstrate how the injury affected their marriage. This can include having friends, family, doctors, or other parties testify on the nature of their relationship.
Who Claims Loss of Consortium
There are potentially three types of individuals who can make a loss of consortium (or loss of companionship) claim:
- Married spouse: Marital consortium claims are the most common. As long as you have a valid marriage, you can make a claim.
- Domestic partner: Certain states extend the right to claim loss of consortium to domestic partners – a partner who you live and share life together but are not married.
- Children or parents: In recent years, varying states have allowed children or parents of the injured victim to make a loss of consortium claim.
Each state will have specific requirements on who’s eligible for a loss of consortium claim. Consult with a local personal injury attorney to find out the eligibility criteria specific to your state.
Loss of Consortium Limitations
There are limitations set out either by state law or insurance policies to loss of consortium claims. For example, in Nevada, there is no cap on non-economic damages, such as loss of consortium. This means a jury can award however much they deem fair based on some of the factors discussed previously. However, it does have a cap of $350,000 for non-economic damages due to medical malpractice. Other states will differ in how much they limit loss of consortium damages. Similarly, insurance policies may also apply cap limits to a single injury incident.
State law will dictate the various loss of consortium limitations. It’s important to discuss with your attorney, so you understand what these limitations are in your area.
If your spouse was injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to claim loss of consortium damages.
The injury of your spouse can be a challenging time for both you and your loved one. At Valiente Mott, our Nevada personal injury attorney team can help you and your partner navigate the complex legal procedures with sensitivity and compassion.
Contact us today at (702) 623-2323 to find out how we can help you.