“Loss of consortium” is a legal term that refers to the loss of the intangible benefits of a close personal relationship. The claim belongs to a non-injured party who lost the benefits of a relationship due to an injury to their family member. Traditionally, loss of consortium has referred to the loss of sexual intimacy in a spousal relationship. In Florida, however, loss of consortium is not always limited to intimate partners.
Some courts allow children to file loss of consortium claims over injuries to a parent. These courts might also allow parents to file claims over injuries to their children. Accordingly, the definition of “consortium” includes:
- Society and companionship,
- Assistance with household chores,
- Affection, and
- Sexual relations.
“Loss of consortium” is not strictly limited to the foregoing benefits.
Elements of a Loss of Consortium Claim
Every personal injury claim depends on several elements (facts you need to prove to win your claim).
The elements of a loss of consortium claim include:
- An eligible family member suffered a physical injury;
- The defendant caused your family member’s injury through negligence, gross negligence, or intentional misconduct;
- You suffered a “loss of consortium” as defined above; and
- Your spouse’s injury was the cause of your loss of consortium.
Even if your spouse wins their personal injury claim, that is no guarantee that you will win your loss of consortium claim.
Injuries That Commonly Trigger Loss of Consortium Claims
The following injuries account for more than half of all loss of consortium claims.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): A traumatic brain injury can degrade your mood, memory, and personality. A loved one might feel they are dealing with a completely different person.
- Spinal cord injuries: These injuries can result in partial or total paralysis, significantly limiting physical interaction.
- Severe burns: Burns can lead to emotional and psychological distress, affecting the intimacy and dynamics of a relationship.
- Amputations: The loss of a limb can affect your ability to contribute to household duties, parenting, and intimacy.
- Chronic pain: Chronic pain can lead to emotional distress, depression, and personality changes.
- Psychological trauma: Psychological harm, such as PTSD, can alter interpersonal dynamics and affect emotional connections in a relationship.
- Death: In cases where an injury leads to a wrongful death lawsuit, the surviving spouse or family members may seek compensation due to the permanent loss of companionship, protection, and support.
Any number of possible injuries might lead to a legitimate loss of consortium claim.
How a Personal Injury Might Affect Your Relationship
A physical injury can affect your relationship in the following ways:
- Difficulty engaging in physical activities, including sex.
- Personality changes arising from chronic pain. Your loved one might not enjoy activities that you used to enjoy together.
- Changes in cognitive abilities affecting communication, emotional connection, and the emotional health of your relationship. Your family member might have become irritable or emotionally distant.
- Increase in caretaking responsibilities: Injuries that result in long-term care needs can shift the dynamics of a relationship. Your loved one may end up feeling more like a nurse than an intimate partner.
Your loved one might experience other impacts as well, that express themselves as reduced participation in shared activities, emotional strain and stress, and altered family dynamics.
Evidence That Can Prove Your Loss of Consortium Claim
Proving loss of consortium can be tricky because of the intangible nature of some of the losses the victim is claiming. The following evidence can help:
- Your testimony and testimony from family members: Descriptions of the relationship both before and after the injury.
- Expert testimony: Psychologists or psychiatrists can provide expert opinions on the emotional and psychological impact of the injury on the relationship.
- Medical records: These records can establish the nature and extent of the injuries, and how they affect your relationship. Proof that sex is impossible, for example, will help a loss of consortium claim filed by a spouse.
- Photographs and videos: Visual evidence showing the couple’s life and activities before and after the injury.
- Testimony from friends and relatives: Witnesses who can testify about the quality of the relationship before and after the injury.
- Documentation of lifestyle changes: Records of canceled plans, inability to participate in shared activities, and increased need for assistance in daily life.
- Financial records: These records can support the claim of adverse impact on the family.
- Diaries, letters, emails, and other written correspondence and accounts: Personal writings that reflect the state of the relationship, emotional struggles, and changes caused by the injury.
- Counseling or therapy records: If you or your family members sought counseling or therapy, these records can substantiate the emotional and psychological toll that you and your family suffered.
- Employment records: Employment records can document the injury’s effect on the injured spouse’s ability to work, resulting in a financial impact on the family.
- Affidavits from colleagues and employers: These can provide insight into changes in the injured party’s behavior or emotional state.
Gather any evidence that you believe might be relevant, and let your lawyer sort it out.
You Almost Certainly Need a Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer To Handle Your Loss of Consortium Claim
“Loss of consortium” is a form of non-economic damages that can be tricky to qualify for. An experienced Tampa personal injury lawyer, however, should have handled such claims many times before. Contact our lawyers at Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free initial consultation at your earliest convenience. Call us today at (813) 223-6200.