What is Loss of Consortium?
If your loved one has been injured or killed in a personal injury accident, you’ve likely suffered emotional damages and faced many challenges because of the accident. If these losses are severe and the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be considering a loss of consortium claim. But what exactly is loss of consortium? Who’s entitled to a loss of consortium claim? And how are damages calculated?
Read on to learn more about loss of consortium and how Harris, Preston, & Chambers can help you with your claim.
What is Loss of Consortium?
In the state of Utah, if your spouse or child has been injured or killed in an accident, you may be able to make a loss of consortium claim. Loss of consortium essentially means you have lost a significant part of your relationship with the victim of the accident. In most cases, the claim is only awarded if the injured party is significantly and permanently injured or has died as a result of the accident.
Some people think of loss of consortium only in the context of losing out on sexual intimacy with your spouse. And while this is one of the contexts of loss of consortium, it isn’t the only one. Marriage and family life is so much more than just physical intimacy. If your spouse or child has been severely injured so that they can no longer participate in family outings, bike riding, helping care for your children, etc., you may have a loss of consortium case.
Some examples of loss of consortium include:
- Financial issues because of the accident have caused strain on the relationship between spouses.
- Inability to participate in activities together, such as hiking, bike riding, traveling, etc.
- Loss of sexual relationship.
- Loss of companionship of the injured or killed spouse or child.
- Reproductive injuries that cause the inability to have children.
- The inability of a spouse to help with the care of children.
- Lost wages when missing work to care for the injured spouse or child.
Loss of Consortium Claim and How It’s Calculated
Loss of consortium is considered a non-economic damage. Quantifying the loss in terms of money is more of an art than a science. Oftentimes, it’s left up to the judge or jury to determine the specific amount. Every case is different, so there is no set amount you should expect to receive. The personal injury attorney you choose to represent you, however, can make a big difference in the amount you might receive.
In general, loss of consortium claims are calculated by considering:
- The age of the injured spouse or child
- The age of the non-injured spouse or parent
- The length of the relationship
- The quality of the relationship
A marriage/domestic partnership that is shorter will, in general, receive less compensation than a longer marriage. If the injured party and the person bringing forward the loss of consortium claim are estranged, the likelihood of receiving compensation is much less.
What It Means for You
Utah law specifies who can bring forward a loss of consortium claim. If you’re the spouse, parent, or domestic partner of the injured person, you may be entitled to compensation from the defendant.
One thing to note is that your loss of consortium claim will be linked to your spouse or child’s personal injury or wrongful death claim. If their case is successful, yours is too. And if their case fails, your claim will too.
Loss of Consortium Limits
As with all types of personal injury claims, there are limits to loss of consortium claims. The statute of limitations applies to loss of consortium claims as it does to all other personal injury cases. For most personal injury cases, you have four years from the day to the accident to file your claim.
In Utah, only spouses (including common law spouses), domestic partners, or parents can file a loss of consortium claim. The fiancé/fiancée or girlfriend/boyfriend of the injured party cannot file a claim for loss of consortium, even if their relationship is severely impacted by the accident.
The amount awarded may be limited by the insurance company. Most insurance liability policies limit claims to “single incidents,” meaning the insurance will only pay out up to a certain amount per incident. Because of this, some loss of consortium claims are treated as separate incidents.
Things to Consider
Before filing your claim, there are a few things you’ll want to consider. Because your relationship with your spouse or child is so central to the amount you’re awarded, be prepared to have all your dirty laundry aired. In fact, one of the things you’ll have to prove is that you have a valid marriage, common law marriage, or domestic partnership.
Another thing to remember is that when the case goes to trial, everything presented will become part of public record. You may be subject to grueling questioning in front of the judge and jury in regards to all aspects of the relationship, both in depositions and at the trial. You’ll need to decide if you can handle the rigorous and public nature of a loss of consortium claim.
If you’d like to know whether or not you have a loss of consortium claim, give Harris, Preston, & Chambers a call. We serve clients in the Salt Lake Valley and all throughout Utah. We’ll use our expertise to prove your loss of consortium claim and help you receive the max compensation. Call today for a free consultation!