What Is Loss of Consortium in a Personal Injury Case?

If your loved one is seriously injured or killed in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, your life and your family’s life will be changed forever. The love and support – both emotional and financial – that your loved one provided will be missed by you and your family. In legal terms, this is referred to as loss of consortium.

If your family is facing this issue, the legal team at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn can help you pursue for financial justice for the loss of consortium. Although the law understands that nothing will ever replace that love and support your loved one provided, it provides a vehicle where the at-fault party is liable for that loss and must compensate victims’ families.

History of Loss of Consortium

For centuries, women were not considered individuals, but instead considered the property of their husbands. If something happened to the wife and she was unable to perform her domestic duties, perform her “wifely duties” in the bedroom, or was otherwise left permanently disabled, her husband could collect financial compensation for the loss of consortium he was suffering. As society began to recognize that women and men were equal, the laws were expanded to now allow wives to collect loss of consortium if their husbands were injured and killed. However, there are still some states (Virginia, for example) that do not recognize loss of consortium at all, no matter which spouse tries to collect.

An example of a possible loss of consortium claim is as follows: A husband is left paralyzed in a motorcycle accident. The accident was caused by another driver running a red light and hitting the victim’s bike. Even more tragic, the husband was a construction worker and is now unable to work at his profession any longer. The husband can file a motorcycle accident claim against the driver to collect compensation for all the losses he is suffering because of the accident.

However, his wife can also pursue damages for loss of consortium because of the impact the husband’s injury has on their marriage. The husband is unable to do many of the household and childcare chores he could before the accident because of the limitations his paralysis has put on his life. The couple’s intimate life has also been severely impacted because of the husband’s injuries.

Some of the damages a spouse can be awarded for loss of consortium include:

  • Loss of the injured spouse’s income
  • Loss of the injured spouse’s affection and sexual relationship
  • Loss of the services the injured spouse provided, such as childcare, meal preparation, cleaning, home maintenance
  • Emotional distress

Proving Loss of Consortium

When a person files a personal injury case, proving what the economic losses are can be easier than proving what non-economic losses are. Economic damages – such as medical expenses and lost wages – have a specific dollar amount attached to them. Non-economic damages do not have specific dollar amounts. Instead, the attorney representing the victim and their family must use several factors to calculate what dollar amount the noneconomic damages are worth.

Loss of consortium falls under the non-economic damage category. In order to prove loss of consortium, a spouse must be ready to share personal aspects of their marriage in order to prove how the victim spouse’s injuries have affected their relationship. This is why it is critical to work with an attorney who you trust and feel comfortable with sharing this information with.

Some of the factors a judge or jury will consider when deciding whether the spouse has suffered loss of consortium include:

  • Whether the marriage was a loving and stable one
  • What the living arrangements of the couple were
  • How much companionship and care the injured spouse provided to the spouse claiming loss of consortium
  • The life expectancy of the spouse filing the claim of loss of consortium

Contact a Carolina Injury Attorney Today

If you have been injured in an incident caused by the negligence of another party, a North Carolina personal injury attorney can evaluate your case to see what damages you may be entitled to and what the best course of action is to obtain those damages.

At Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn, we have been fighting for injured victims and their families for more than three decades and will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve. Call our office today for a free consultation.

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Eric K. Washburn
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia