What Is Loss of Consortium?
Pennsylvania law allows you to seek damages for “loss of consortium” if your spouse is so badly injured in an accident that you have lost various, meaningful benefits of this familial relationship.
Loss of consortium is a cause of action in a personal injury claim that allows you to pursue compensation for the loss of companionship, intimacy, and affection you once enjoyed with your partner before the accident. This cause of action may be cited in lawsuits where a spouse is severely incapacitated and is no longer able to provide the same level of support, affection, marital relations, parenting assistance, and care as they could before their injury.
Some states, like Pennsylvania, impose caps on the amount of loss of consortium damages you can recover. There are also strict deadlines and procedures when pursuing a loss of consortium claim, which underscores the need to enlist the guidance of a skilled personal injury attorney in Pittsburgh.
In most cases, you have a maximum of two years to file a loss of consortium claim in PA, before the statute of limitations expires. Assuming that your injured spouse has a strong case that proves the extent of their injuries, these “non-economic damages” are designed to reimburse you for the direct and indirect impacts of having a seriously disabled spouse.
Calculating loss of consortium damages
You can easily assign dollar figures to medical treatment, but how does one attach a monetary value to the loss of a partner, a lover, a companion, and friend? Your spouse’s injury has essentially deprived you of many things – from emotional support and moral guidance to intimate marital relations. These are very important facets of a marriage that are no longer there.
In order to recover fair damages for loss of consortium, your attorney is tasked with making a strong argument that your losses are real and significant.
Evidence may entail testimony from relatives about the stability and commitment of your spousal relationship before the accident and how your life has dramatically changed since.
Since these are not “economic” damages that are based on tangible items, the courts must consider the following when estimating the monetary damages to be awarded:
- The strength and stability of your marriage
- Any evidence of discord – were you on the verge of a separation?
- Do you have children, or were you planning on starting a family?
- You current living situation
- The division of labor between you and your spouse
- The life expectancy of both partners
Keep in mind that very sensitive, personal aspects of a marriage will be addressed in the process. If there were any infidelities or embarrassing topics, these will be analyzed in detail. Given the delicate nature of pursuing a loss of consortium claim, you want to choose an attorney who is compassionate and with whom you feel comfortable.
Loss of consortium after a vehicle accident: example
A woman is on her way to work when a distracted driver T-bones her vehicle, causing her to suffer serious brain injury and spinal cord damage. Since her spouse is getting a higher degree, she is the primary breadwinner in their household. The couple has three children ranging in ages from 5-13.
Before her car accident, the women did the lion’s share of household chores in addition to holding down a full-time job while her spouse worked on getting his PhD. She got the kids ready for school, made most of the meals, did the laundry and shopped for groceries.
Given the severity of her injuries, which have impacted her cognitive and physical abilities, their relationship has shifted considerably. The spouse is now left to raise the kids alone and feels more like a caretaker than a husband. The couple no longer goes out with friends; their social life is over, and they no longer have intimate relations.
The injured wife is unable to provide the same level of love, comfort, affection, companionship, and intimacy, which has changed the family dynamics entirely.
Your choice of legal counsel matters
It takes knowledge and skill to assign a monetary figure on a loss of consortium claim. If you need seasoned legal advice regarding the consequences of your spouse’s injuries, contact Chaffin Luhana for a private consultation, free of charge.
Our compassionate personal injury attorneys leverage years of experience helping victims achieve maximum legal compensation.