“Loss of Consortium” Claims: What You Need to Know
Accidents can leave their victims in chronic pain and sometimes unable to return to work or to leave the home. But the spouses of injured victims also suffer in their own right. If your spouse was injured in an accident, you might be entitled to receive compensation by bringing a “loss of consortium” claim.
What Losses are Covered?
Loss of consortium basically covers services your spouse provided before getting injured. For example, your spouse might have done any of the following:
- Cooked meals
- Done the family’s laundry
- Cleaned the house
- Watched the children
- Picked the children up from school
After an injury, your spouse might not be able to perform any of these services, so you will need to hire someone else to do them, which costs money. Fortunately, you can receive compensation to cover these costs.
Loss of consortium also covers less tangible injuries of an emotional variety. For example, depending on your spouse’s injuries, you might have lost:
- Sexual intimacy
These losses are harder to estimate but are very real, so New York allows spouses to receive a sum of money to make up for these intangible losses as well.
Who Brings the Lawsuit?
The spouse who wasn’t involved in the accident brings the lawsuit. Typically, the same lawyer who represents the accident victim can bring the lawsuit for loss of consortium since it arises from the same facts as the accident.
How Much Can a Spouse Receive?
Generally, spouses receive a fraction of the amount that their injured spouse gets. No two cases are alike, but a rough estimate is around 10%. So if someone suffers $100,000 in damages, their spouse can typically get around $10,000 for loss of consortium—though the amount always varies based on the circumstances. You should meet with a personal injury attorney to carefully analyze how much money might be available.
In a few situations, loss of consortium damages can be substantial, but these cases usually involve catastrophic injuries like paralysis or brain damage. In these cases, you might receive a large amount in loss of consortium damages because your marriage has permanently changed in a dramatic way.
Can Unmarried Couples Claim Loss of Consortium?
No. If unmarried couples could make this claim, then the floodgates might open. In New York, you must be married to maintain this action. You also should be married throughout the entire lawsuit. If you divorce halfway through litigation, then you might forfeit your right to loss of consortium damages.
Couples in same-sex marriages can certainly claim of loss of consortium since same-sex marriage is legal in New York.
Should You Bring a Loss of Consortium Claim?
Simply because you can bring a claim does not mean that you should. By suing for loss of consortium, you open your marriage up to scrutiny. For example, defense counsel might probe into whether you and your spouse have ever separated or whether you have attended marital counseling. Defense counsel might even be able to inquire about your sex life. You should discuss frankly with your lawyer the state of your relationship with your spouse.
Contact a Brooklyn Personal Injury Lawyer
Devastating accidents reverberate through families, impacting everyone’s life. At the Law Offices of David J. Hernandez & Associates, we hear daily from spouses whose lives have been turned upside down because of their husband or wife’s serious injury. To seek compensation, please contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation. Call 718-407-4123 or submit our contact form.