It is your own claim, not your spouse’s, and you can assert it even if your spouse died in the accident. Its purpose is to compensate you for your loss of marital benefits as a consequence of the injury to your spouse.
Loss of Consortium: Examples
Following are some common examples of loss of consortium:
- You used to go on a pleasant evening walks with your spouse, but your spouse can no longer walk;
- Your spouse is no longer capable of engaging in sexual relations with you;
- Your spouse suffered brain damage and no longer recognizes you;
- Your spouse was once your conversation partner, but they can no longer communicate with you;
- Chronic pain prevents your spouse from engaging in activities that you once shared, such as jogging, sports, travel, and hobbies;
- Your spouse can no longer carry out domestic tasks such as parenting, cooking, or cleaning.; or
- Your spouse’s depression prevents them from being a source of encouragement and wisdom to you.
The foregoing examples represent only a few of the possible losses you might be suffering due to your spouse’s injury.
The Legal Elements of a Loss of Consortium Claim
You can demand compensation for loss of consortium on the basis of a personal injury to your spouse if you can prove:
- You were married to your spouse at the time of their injury;
- Your spouse was physically harmed by the defendant’s negligence;
- You suffered an actual loss of consortium; and
- Your loss of consortium was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s negligence.
To win, you must prove that each of the four foregoing statements is more likely than not to be true.
Loss of consortium entitles you to non-economic damages, including (potentially) the following:
- Loss of services;
- Loss of companionship, affection, comfort, and society;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of protection and support;
- Loss of affection and emotional support; and
- Loss of sexual relations.
If your claim goes to court, a court will decide the values of these components of your compensation. Because they are so intangible, they are difficult to place a number on.
It is precisely this reason that hiring a skilled Minneapolis personal injury lawyer is so important for a loss of consortium claim. The same reasoning applies to settlement negotiations; the persuasiveness of your lawyer can make a tremendous difference in the valuation of your claim.
Damages You Can’t Claim
You cannot include certain types of damages in a loss of consortium claim:
- Lost income due to your partner’s diminished earning capacity;
- The income you lost because you quit your job to look after your spouse;
- Costs of hiring nursing care for your spouse; or
- Cost of replacing the household services your spouse used to provide (this is not the same as claiming compensation for the loss of these services, which you can claim).
This doesn’t mean you cannot recover from these losses and expenses. All it means is that you can’t recover for them based on a loss of consortium claim. Your spouse might file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for these items. If your spouse died in an accident, you might seek them yourself, incident to a wrongful death claim.
How To Prove Loss of Consortium
Proving loss of consortium can be difficult, especially if you are seeking a large amount of damages. Here are some of the facts you might need to prove:
- Your marriage was happy and stable before the accident.
- You and your spouse were not separated (either legally or de facto) at the time of the accident. Instead, you and your spouse lived together full-time.
- Your spouse provided you with care and companionship during the marriage, assuming you are claiming loss of consortium based on the loss of these benefits.
- Your spouse performed household services during the marriage.
- You and your spouse regularly engaged in certain rewarding activities on a regular basis.
You may also need to prove the expected remaining life expectancy for both of you.
Talk to a Minneapolis Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Claim
To win a loss of consortium claim, you must win two claims in one. These two claims are your spouse’s underlying personal injury claim and your own loss of consortium claim. If you face this situation, don’t try to represent yourself. Instead, seek the services of an experienced Minneapolis personal injury attorney.