When a person is injured or killed, the impact can extend to their loved ones. Depending on the circumstances, these loved ones may have a legal right to pursue a claim for damages based on the harms they have personally experienced because of the accident. Among others, affected family members may be able to receive compensation for loss of consortium damages.
Here, we will describe what loss of consortium is and how courts compensate victims’ families for it.
What Is Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium is the loss of certain benefits derived from a personal relationship. The law recognizes that certain loved ones may miss out on benefits they enjoyed with the person before the accident. If another party’s carelessness or intentional misconduct caused these losses, the affected family members may be able to recover financial compensation for the losses.
Loss of consortium claims are often brought in wrongful death cases or those involving catastrophic injuries that impair a person to such an extent that it damages their relationship with loved ones. In these situations, loved ones may miss out on the affection, comfort, companionship, and sexual relations the victim would have provided had the accident not occurred.
Loss of Consortium for Spouses
The original recipients of loss of consortium claims were spouses. The law recognized that these individuals would suffer great injury if their spouse was killed or permanently disabled. Loss of consortium includes all non-financial benefits of a relationship.
For spouses, losses might include:
- Sexual relations
- Shared activities
The victim’s spouse may also be able to recover compensation for financial losses, such as the loss of financial support or income, but this is not through a loss of consortium claim.
Loss of Consortium for Children
When a parent dies and leaves behind one or more children, the children can seek compensation for their emotional losses.
Florida law states that a person whose negligence causes death or permanent disability is liable to the person’s children for the following damages:
- Permanent loss of services
- Loss of comfort
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of society
This applies to natural or adoptive parents of an unmarried dependent child.
Loss of Consortium for Parents
Florida law also allows parents to file a loss of consortium claim if their child is killed or permanently disabled because of the negligence or intentional misconduct by a third party.
How Are Loss of Consortium Damages Calculated
Loss of consortium is a type of non-economic damage, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of reputation
- Permanent disability
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Humiliation or embarrassment
These damages cannot easily be quantified. How do you put a dollar amount on your relationship with your spouse or parent? How much is the loss of affection you expected to receive for the rest of your life?
With economic damages like medical expenses or property damage, you can bring a receipt or invoice to establish your losses. With non-economic damages like loss of consortium, the judge, jury, or insurance adjuster might try to put a dollar value on the loss.
Judges, juries, and insurance adjuster consider factors, such as:
- The victim’s age, health, and life expectancy
- The claimant’s age, health, and life expectancy
- Whether the injuries were fatal or permanent
- Whether the injuries prevented the victim and claimant from enjoying hobbies or pastimes together
- How the injuries affected the claimant’s life
- Whether the claimant had to take care of the victim because of the injuries
- Whether the injuries impacted the claimant’s sex life
- How the injuries affected the victim’s and claimant’s mood
- Whether the injuries affected the victim’s and claimant’s social life
- The relationship between the victim and claimant before and after the accident
Additionally, insurance adjusters will consider the policy limits on any applicable policy.
Downsides of Bringing a Loss of Consortium Claim
While the victim’s family may have the right to pursue a loss of consortium claim, they may ultimately decide not to. These types of claims can be emotionally difficult and extremely sensitive. The victim’s family may have to discuss the intimate details of their relationship to prove they have a right to compensation. The defendant or those representing the defendant may try to minimize this relationship or the value of their claim.
For example, the defense attorney may question the frequency or type of sexual relations between the claimant and their spouse. If the relationship had been strained before the accident, this could affect the value of the claim. Going through this line of inquiry can be difficult for loved ones who are already struggling with loss.
Contact an Experienced Fort Walton Beach Personal Injury Lawyer
Our Fort Walton Beach personal injury lawyer can discuss loss of consortium claims and any downsides you could anticipate. You don’t have to face this challenging time alone. Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys is here for you and your loved ones. Contact us today for a free consultation and to learn more about loss of consortium.