Accidents happen all of the time, but sometimes they result in serious injury or death. If an individual did something or failed to do something, that directly led to the accident they can be held accountable in court.
For some people, compensation for a totaled car or medical bills isn’t enough to make up for everything they lost, especially if a loved one died. Though money can’t replace people, a loss of consortium claim could ease the burden for family members.
What is Loss of Consortium?
When somebody is injured or killed in an accident, their family loses out on things they shared before the incident, like love and companionship.
If that person’s injury or death was caused by another person’s negligence, the family can file a special personal injury lawsuit known as a loss of consortium action.
Loss of consortium claims can cover a range of losses, including affection and sexual relations. However, claimants usually only win in cases where the loved one passes away or sustains a serious, long-term, or permanent injury.
Who Can File Loss of Consortium Actions?
Historically, most loss of consortium cases come from spouses who lost their partner’s companionship and support. In some cases, children may also file loss of consortium actions for their parents.
Calculating Loss of Consortium Claims
Determining damages in negligence cases is never easy or clear-cut. This is particularly true for the valuation of non-economic awards. It’s challenging to project things like pain and suffering. For loss of consortium cases, it’s even less clear because the court must assign a monetary value to some intangible and amorphous concepts.
When deciding, the court may consider everything a claimant lost, including help with household chores, the ability to have children, and loss of sexual relations. The case usually gets personal as the judge attempts to assign a monetary value to your losses.
For example, say a husband is injured in a car accident because the accused ran a red light. The husband’s injuries result in the loss of his legs and sexual function.
His wife files a loss of consortium claim for loss of sexual relations, help around the house, and companionship. The wife could be entitled to compensation for those losses.
However, if the judge finds out that the couple had not shared a bed in years or the husband never helped out around the house, it may turn out quite differently.
Proving Loss of Consortium in Florida
Most loss of consortium cases in Florida involve spouses. To file a claim, the injured spouse must have died or sustained a significant injury that seriously impacts their relationship with the claimant.
Further, the spouse filing the action must prove four elements to win the case:
- The parties had to be legally married at the time of the accident.
- The accused party had to intentionally or negligently have caused the accident.
- The claimant must prove that the accused’s actions were reasonably known to put others in harm’s way.
- The claimant must demonstrate loss of consortium due to their spouse’s injuries.
Additionally, some provisions could prevent a loss of consortium case. The injured person must have a valid personal injury claim in order for the spouse to file a loss of consortium claim.
Things to Consider Before Filing a Loss of Consortium Case
These cases can become highly invasive and draw out some painful or embarrassing information. It’s important to be prepared for the eventuality that private matters will come to light in loss of consortium cases. If you’re not prepared for your life to become an open book, you may not want to file a claim.
Another consideration is that loss of consortium cases don’t always benefit the claimant. Since it’s a derivative case that must accompany a personal injury claim, it may seem excessive and not lead to additional compensation.
Further, loss of consortium cases can lead to losses if the accused makes an Offer of Judgement. In civil cases for damages, the accused can make an offer to the claimant. If it’s not accepted within thirty days, the accused can recover costs and fees related to the case if they win the case.
It’s important to weigh your options before filing a loss of consortium action. You may want to retain legal counsel to help you assess the situation and determine if you have a viable case. Whatever path you choose, it’s helpful to have a supportive team around you as you navigate your new normal.