Legal matters as they surround personal injury may, on the surface, appear straightforward. A car accident is often assumed to have an “at-fault” driver – although these matters are often much more complex. Car accident injuries can have cascading effects that impact more than those involved in the accident. Family members, for example, can suffer the consequences, as well. When a spouse is unable to return to work, or hospital bills become unmanageable a person maybe suffering without their support or care. Read more about loss of consortium claims in personal injury cases.
What is Loss of Consortium?
The spouse of someone injured or killed in an accident can sue for damages based on loss of consortium. Damages may be claimed under three theories: incurred medical costs or those yet to be incurred by the plaintiff, the loss of an injured spouse’s services, and loss of society (within certain parameters).
Some jurisdictions recognize only spousal consortium (usually considered as sex), others recognize parental consortium (love and affection) and allow children to recover for the death or disability of a parent and vice versa. Since same-sex marriage became available in the United States, courts in that country have extended loss of consortium to these unions.
How Do Loss of Consortium Claims Work?
An injured person’s family members, typically spouses, may be able to recover their own losses in a personal injury or wrongful death case. In general, loss of consortium claims are not awarded unless the injured person dies or suffers a severe, longlasting, or permanent injury.
Usually, these types of losses are considered, or labeled “general” or non-economic damages. Non-economic damages can include:
- Emotional anguish
- Humiliation and embarrassment
- Reputational damage
- Loss of enjoyment of activities
- Worsening of prior injuries
Typically, these kinds of losses (and their monetary value) are left to the discretion of the judge or jury. However, since these kinds of damages are also difficult to quantify, it’s best to consult with a Oregon personal injury attorney to verify or review precise monetary value for a loss of consortium claim or possible outcomes for your specific case.
Determining Loss of Consortium
There are many reasons to determine whether a loss of consortium claim may be warranted. Perhaps a spouse is suffering in a hospital after a major car crash. Disability may also be a cause of stress and worry after a catastrophic slip-and-fall event. Regardless of the situation, if your spouse was seriously hurt in an accident due to no fault of their own, your spouse probably isn’t the only one suffering.
As the husband or wife of an injured spouse, you have probably lost numerous spousal benefits, like loss of affection, loss of companionship, loss of spousal services and other types of losses. Having suffered these losses of spousal benefits, you may have the right to pursue financial claims against the party at fault for the accident. It’s important to discuss options with a qualified and experienced injury lawyer.
Proving A Claim
In order to receive financial compensation for losses of spousal benefit due to loss of consortium, including your name in the claim will be important. Since a loss of consortium claim is usually handled in addition to an existing injury suit, it’s important to qualify losses as they apply to the spouse suffering. For example, you will make various demands relating the spousal benefits lost.
The difficult part of any suit is proving loss and suffering. An experience injury lawyer will know how to properly document and file each form of loss. In order to gather evidence, it’s important to understand what to consider as a “loss.”
Unlike other areas of law, there’s no specific test or set of rules used to prove or calculate loss of consortium damages. The court would likely look at these and additional factors that can include:
- Whether the marriage is loving and stable
- If married couples lived with one another full time
- Evidence that your spouse provided you with care and companionship
- Proof or medical documentation and expert evidence that offers an estimated life expectancy
- Various household services that your spouse performed prior to accident
- Various activities that you and your spouse enjoyed together
Ryan Hilts Attorney At Law
If you believe you have a viable loss of consortium claim, it’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney in Oregon. Ryan Hilts provides supportive services for clients who have suffered from accidents, negligence, and more. In addition, our law firm has also represented family members who have suffered as a result of negligence. We can provide a free initial consultation and discuss possible compensation or viability for your loss of consortium claim.
We can help in the following injury cases:
For more information contact us directly at (503) 726-5960.