Loss of Consortium in Personal Injury Litigation
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is an additional element of damages in a personal injury claim. Loss of consortium involves damages suffered by your spouse. Your spouse is entitled to be compensated for the reasonable value of the services that you can no longer perform. Your spouse is entitled to remuneration for any loss of support, aid, assistance, companionship, comfort, protection, and love resulting from your injuries.
A good rule of thumb for valuing a loss of consortium claim is to calculate 10% of the value of the case in chief. Thus, if the husband suffered a herniated lumbar disc because of an accident and the case settles for $75,000, it would be reasonable to tack on another $7,500 for the wife’s loss of consortium claim.
This kind of claim must be made very carefully. When the injuries are severe and the loss of consortium legitimate, there is no reason not to pursue a loss of consortium claim. But pursuing this kind of claim can backfire in a big way. If the injuries are relatively small or the testimony concerning loss of consortium not stated in a convincing way, the jury might decide that you and your spouse are greedy for pursuing a loss of consortium claim.
Also, many people prefer not to have this very personal aspect of their life subjected to the searching cross-examination of an insurance company attorney. Many people prefer that the most personal aspects of their marital life not be discussed in open court. A loss of consortium claim potentially opens up this kind of inquiry. The defense attorney may be entitled to inquire into the spousal sexual relations that existed before the accident so that this can be compared to the post-accident relations. This is obviously the type of claim which you, your spouse, and your attorney need to discuss in depth before pursuing.
Loss of consortium claims are limited to husbands and wives. Thus, if the injury occurs before the plaintiffs wedding, even if it is just hours before, the spouse is unable to make a loss of consortium claim.