Loss of consortium is a legal phrase describing the effects of an injury or wrongful death of a loved one. In addition to the initial claim for the victim’s injuries, a spouse or other family member may have an additional claim for the event’s negative impact on their relationship with the victim.
What is the Loss of Consortium in Florida?
Loss of consortium is a claim for loss relating to the conjugal life of a spouse or familial relationship of a parent or child. In Florida, a family member can seek damages for loss of companionship, loss of convenience, and an impacted quality of life.
Spouse’s Loss of Consortium
Spouses are the most common plaintiffs in loss of consortium cases. The loss or serious injury of a partner can cause untold emotional distress and have life-altering consequences.
Loss of Parental Consortium
Children, including adoptive children and other dependents, can file for loss of consortium at the severe injury or death of a parent. These cases are strongest when the plaintiff is a minor dependent on the victim for financial and emotional support.
Parental Loss of Filial Consortium
Parents, including those of adoptive children, can file for loss of consortium at the loss or injury of a child. Again, cases are strongest if the victim is a minor and their loss causes serious emotional damage to the parent or parents, possibly even causing a strain on their relationship.
How Do I Prove Loss of Consortium?
Proving loss of consortium can be tricky. It can also rely on proving that the plaintiff and victim had a successful marriage or otherwise healthy familial relationship. This can include questioning your private lives and researching any previous problems such as infidelity, domestic disputes, or abuse.
Factors you will need to prove are:
- The plaintiff and victim were legally married or parent/child at the time of the incident
- The defendant was at-fault for the incident through negligence or intentional action
- The underlying claim for the victim must be valid
- The plaintiff is suffering a loss of consortium as a result
If those conditions are met, and you can prove reasonable damages, you have a strong case.
What Damages Can Be Filed In Loss of Consortium Claims?
While loss of consortium is considered a form of general damages (non-economic), there are some components with an easy-to-discern dollar amount. Other claims for loss, however, can be much more subjective and difficult to quantify. Here are the primary examples of both.
If a spouse or other lost loved one played a significant role in raising a child or other dependent, losing their ability to do so can place a great burden of time and money on the plaintiff.
Luckily, services like a babysitter or daycare can be a form of special damages that is easy to calculate and factor into loss of consortium.
Help With Household Chores
Similar to child care, if your spouse or other family member handled a significant amount of everyday tasks and is no longer able to, that should be included in the loss of consortium. This can consist of special damages like:
- A housekeeper or maid
- A landscaping or lawn care service
- Home repair services
- Mechanic services
If a family member who used to provide valuable assistance around the home is no longer able to, that type of work may need to be contracted out. You have a right to financial compensation for those expenses resulting from a loss of services from a spouse or family member.
Loss of Companionship
Loss of companionship can be a much more difficult concept to quantify. The legal premise here is that losing the companionship of a spouse or close family member through the actions or negligence of another should be compensated. While it is impossible that money will fix the problem, restitution should be awarded nevertheless.
Companionship includes things like going on vacation together, daily activities, and emotional support. Losing the ability to enjoy those things should be factored into a loss of consortium case.
Loss of Sexual Relationship
While again challenging to quantify, a loss of a sexual relationship between spouses can be a serious matter. This can be a significant element of a marital relationship that can be harmed through severe injury.
This can, unfortunately, be an uncomfortable part of the case, as the defense may seek proof of your healthy sexual relationship prior to the injury. This can include sharing some private information, which your attorney can prepare you for leading up to the case.
Economic damages are generally handled in the lawsuit related to the loss of consortium case. For example, the personal injury claim prompting the loss of consortium case is where economic damages such as loss of wages and changes to living arrangements will be reconciled.
Some components of loss of consortium cases may have economic components (such as the first two examples in this section), but in general, you will be pursuing non-economic damages.
Loss of consortium is more closely related to emotional issues than economic ones. Things like loss of affection and companionship can be considered emotional damages. Terms like “pain and suffering” tend to apply more to the injured party and should be included in the related case.
Who Can File a Loss of Consortium Lawsuit?
As mentioned above, the following people can file a loss of consortium lawsuit:
- Parents (including adoptive)
- Children (including adoptive and other dependents)
There are some specific rules about marital status and age when it comes to the loss of consortium. For example, parents can usually only file for the loss of a minor and vice versa. Loss of consortium plaintiffs are also an “or” situation, meaning a spouse, parent, or child can file, but not all three separately.
Alternate Types of Loss of Consortium
It may be possible for other close family members or domestic partners to file for loss of consortium, though this can be more difficult. In general, only the above relations are permitted to collect, including adoptive relationships.
Why You Should Hire a Lawyer for Your Loss of Consortium Case
Loss of consortium cases can be tricky for a number of reasons. They rely on a successful claim for the victim (such as a personal injury, medical malpractice, or wrongful death claim) but are handled separately. Loss of consortium is considered non-economic damages in Florida, which are notoriously difficult to price and prove.
Lastly, loss of consortium cases can rely on sensitive information about your marital relationship that may be difficult to talk about in a public setting. A lawyer can help prepare you for this type of questioning and help you strategize against common defense tactics.
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Denmon Pearlman are well-versed in loss of consortium law in Florida and can help you recover compensation for your losses. While no amount of money can replace the love, affection, and happiness of a loved one, a fair settlement can help ease the burden after a life-altering event.