Your Spouse May Have A Loss Of Consortium Claim After Your Accident
If you are injured in an accident, you are the one that sues the liable, negligent defendant, as you are the one who was involved in the accident. But there’s actually someone else who may be able to also join you as a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit: your spouse. This is true even if your spouse wasn’t involved in the accident, or at the accident scene, or directly injured in the accident.
Loss of Consortium
This is because spouses of injury victims often have what are known as loss of consortium claims.
The law recognizes that couples do things together, and help each other. They go to movies or play sports, or play games or have intimate relations, or help each other with housework or child raising—all the emotional, physical, and mental support and companionship that is involved in a personal marriage relationship.
When one partner is injured, and he or she can no longer do these things, the spouse of the victim suffers a loss as well. The spouse has lost the companion that he or she once had, or at least, lost the services, assistance and support of the injured spouse.
When a husband can no longer walk in the park with a wife because of injuries sustained in an accident, that loss has a value. When a wife can no longer play pickleball with her husband because of her injuries, that has a value. When a couple fights more, argues more, or just no longer has the same interpersonal or physical relationship they once had because of injuries sustained in an accident, that is a loss that the law recognizes has a value to it.
This means that the spouse who was not actually directly injured in the accident, does have the right to sue for these losses.
Disclosure of Details
Anytime that a loss of consortium is asserted in a lawsuit, a couple must be comfortable disclosing the details of their marriage to a jury if need be.
There could be a detailed inquiry, for example, of how often a couple fight before as compared to after the accident. The Defendant may ask whether the couple were having marital problems, or how often they were intimate, before as compared to after the accident.
All of this can be intrusive, and your personal injury lawyer will discuss with you whether it is worth adding a loss of consortium claim, and what kind of questions you can expect by making the claim.
But if you do have that option, and you are not afraid to disclose this kind of information, the loss of consortium claim can lead to additional damages, and larger compensation in settlement or in trial, in recognition of the irreparable loss of marital relations between a husband and wife.