Loss of Consortium Claims
A loss of consortium claim is traditionally considered to be a claim for a limitation of usual marital relations due to personal injury to one spouse or the other, whether that is sex, affection or companionship. However, this sort of claim may also arise out of a spouse’s inability to perform usual household responsibilities such as parenting, or an inability to share normal activities with the spouse which are an important of their relationship.
Claims for lost consortium are pursued less often than deserved because many people pursuing personal injury claims seem to think that if their spouse makes such a claim their sex life will become an open book. That is not necessarily the case; consortium is more than just sex. Depending on the actual allegation, a couple may only need to show how their relationship was strained because of the one spouse’s injury.
The loss of consortium claim is not an actual injury in itself but arises out of another’s personal injury. Since it is a derivative claim, its value is part of that single personal injury settlement. For example, if there is a $20,000 bodily injury policy limit applicable to the injured person, both the injury and the loss of consortium claim are limited by the $20,000. There is no separate injury or separate trial. The names of both spouses will be on the settlement check.
Scenario: John Doe’s hip is broken in an accident caused by Mark. John is married to Jane and is 32 years old. The couple has three young children and feels that their family is complete. John’s broken hip really has no affect on the couple’s sex life; the three young children already took care of that. However, prior to the accident John helped Jane with household chores which included caring for the children after he came home from work in the evenings. Not only is Jane left caring for the children by herself, but she is also waiting on John because of his inability to get around the house for a few weeks. This leads to bitterness on Jane’s part and the marriage is temporarily strained.
Mark’s bodily injury liability limits are $50,000. By itself, John’s broken hip claim is evaluated at $40,000, but when Jane’s loss of consortium claim is added in, the claim is evaluated at the policy limits of $50,000. The couple gets one settlement check for $50,000.00 made out to the both of them. (This just an example and is not meant to represent any existing scenario.) If John’s broken hip had been evaluated at the $50,000 policy limits by itself, then there would be no money for Jane’s derivative claim but the couple would have still gotten one settlement check because the issue was raised.
Loss of consortium claims almost always involve married couples, though rarely might involve a child who is deprived of a parent’s companionship. This sort of claim usually partners with serious and/or permanent injuries which are especially sympathetic and make the loss of companionship and affection believable. It is not usually seen with a minor strain case, where such an allegation might appear to be an effort to build up the claim and just not be believable.
This article is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.
Other articles related to this topic:
Personal Injury Claim Values
Colossus Evaluations for Personal Injuries
Personal Injury Claim Settlements
An Explanation of Punitive Damages
An Explanation of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverages and what they will pay for.
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