When an injured person brings a personal injury action against a negligent company to recover damages for the harm they suffered, their spouse may have the right to bring a separate, standalone action called a loss of consortium claim. Missouri law recognizes that an injury to one spouse can cause significant harm to the other spouse and to the marriage and family unit as a whole. Loss of consortium is the claim for damages to the intimate parts of the marital relationship as well as the everyday work of marital and family life.
Loss of Consortium is Claimed by the Spouse
If the injured spouse is unable to perform household duties or domestic services as a result of someone else’s negligence (commonly through a car accident, slip and fall or medical malpractice), a claim can be made for the lost value of those services. In addition to the loss of domestic services, the loss of a spouse’s companionship, comfort and the ability to socialize with their partner are all damages for which the spouse may seek compensation. However, some of the most significant losses in a loss of consortium suit include the loss of the ability to engage in activities related to companionship or have a positive intimate physical relationship with your spouse as a result of their physical injuries. These types of damages usually fall under the umbrella of non-economic damages as the specific loss is hard to quantify and financial compensation would provide an incomplete substitute for what was lost. It is often left to the discretion of a judge or jury to determine the value of these claims.
In general, loss of consortium damages do not include loss of professional caretaker services when the injured spouse was previously providing such services – particularly when the damages awarded to the spouse receiving care are significantly greater and thus out of proportion with the damages awarded to the injured spouse under the primary personal injury claim.
Timeframe is Important
The spouse of the negligently injured party will file a claim for loss of consortium in their own name. In certain circumstances, the loss of consortium claim must be filed within thirty (30) days of the injured spouse’s claim therefore it is important to consult at the outset with an experienced personal injury attorney who is well versed in loss of consortium claims. Many individuals are unaware that some of the private suffering they are undergoing as a couple should be considered when they bring the injured spouse’s personal injury case to an attorney.
When bringing a loss of consortium claim for an injury to your spouse, it is important to understand that the defense will be able to ask very personal and private details about your relationship, which may then be made public during the course of trial. These details can involve sexual intimacy. Because a loss of consortium claim is so closely tied to your private sexual relationship, you must be prepared to undergo questioning by the defendant’s attorney about the private details of your marital life. Facts that the defense will likely focus on include any details that indicate that your marriage was troubled at the time of the accident and/or that you did not engage in sexual relations. Areas of concern include infidelity, separation, abuse, criminal activity, and even sexual dysfunction in an attempt to reduce any award for damages due to lack of consortium. Only you and your spouse can determine whether it is in your interest to bring a loss of consortium claim, but experienced counsel can guide you in your decision making. Call Aaron House at 816-875-4260 today for a free consultation if you have with any questions about your potential personal injury and any accompanying loss of consortium claim.