Loss of Consortium in a Personal Injury Case

There are many types of damages that a victim can seek to recover in a personal injury case. These damages include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, and more.

When the victim suffers catastrophic injuries or dies, their spouse, children, parents, other family members, and friends may all be affected by the loss. North Carolina law does not allow most of the people affected by the victim’s injuries join any personal injury lawsuit the victim files, however, the law does allow the victim’s spouse to join the suit to pursue compensation for “loss of consortium.”

What Is Consortium?

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, the definition of consortium is:

“The benefits that one person, especially a spouse, is entitled to receive from another, including companionship, cooperation, affection, aid, and (between spouses) sexual relations.”

When a claim for loss of consortium is filed, it can include many factors, including loss of emotional support, physical intimacy, helping around the house, and many of the other things that spouses provide for each other. So when a victim’s injuries have left them unable to provide any, some, or all of these things, their spouse can include loss of consortium in any injury claim that is filed against the at-fault party or parties.

 

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If a spouse chooses to file this claim, it is crucial to realize that he or she will be required to share many personal facts about their married life. Some of these things may even be embarrassing for them to share. This is one of the reasons why it is important to have a North Carolina personal injury attorney guiding you through this process and protecting you as much as legally allowed.

How Does an Attorney Prove Loss of Consortium?

When evaluating how much impact the victim’s injuries have had on their marriage, a North Carolina accident attorney will need to evaluate the state of the victim’s marriage before the injury and after the injury. Some of the areas that the attorney will compare may include the following:

Spousal Support and Enjoyment: An assessment will be made regarding the couple’s overall relationship. How much time did the couple spend together, what type of shared interests did they have, and what was the level of their emotional closeness? If the injury has affected the couple’s sexual relations, that can also be included. The attorney will evaluate whether or not the victim’s injuries have had a significant impact on the couple’s ability to enjoy all of those shared activities and whether or not they have been able to keep a close marital bond.

If the couple did not actually have a close marriage, it may be difficult to pursue a loss of consortium claim. For example, if there was a history of abuse, separations, infidelity, or other serious issues, the at-fault party’s attorney is able to determine during the discovery phase of the lawsuit, that information can be used to object to the loss of consortium claim.

Household Help: A North Carolina accident attorney will conduct an analysis of the victim’s family and household services to determine how much contribution the victim made. For example, if the victim was a stay-at-home mother, she may have been responsible for the primary care of any young children the couple had, cooking, cleaning, shopping, handling the family’s finances, and more. If her injuries have left her unable to do those activities and the family must now pay someone else to handle them, the cost to the spouse can be included in the loss of consortium claim.

Contact a Carolinas 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, 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.

 

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