What Are Consortium Damages?
Loss of consortium is a type of non-economic damages available in some injury or wrongful death cases. When an individual suffers a serious injury or untimely death, it will undoubtedly have a profound impact upon their family. Victims can suffer cognitive, emotional, or physical impairments that prevent them from participating in the family as they did before the accident. As a result, consortium damages can be included in a claim to reimburse a victim’s family for the loss of:
- Sexual relationship
- Performing household chores
- Caring for children
- Affection and love
- Support and guidance
Who Can File a Loss of Consortium Claim in Pennsylvania?
Under Pennsylvania law, loss of consortium claims can typically only be filed by the uninjured spouse. Courts will sometimes allow a child of an injured parent or parent of an injured child to sue for loss of companionship.
How Are Loss of Consortium Damages Recovered?
To successfully recover consortium damages, an injured party’s spouse will have to file a loss of consortium claim separately from the injured party’s personal injury claim. The uninjured spouse must prove:
- The injured party and uninjured spouse were legally married at the time of the accident;
- The injured party suffered an injury that qualifies for a loss of consortium claim;
- The loss of consortium was caused by the defendant (at-fault party); and
- The injured party suffered an actual loss of consortium.
It is important to note that even if the injured spouse’s personal injury claim is settled, a loss of consortium claim can continue on independently until it is resolved.
How Much is My Loss of Consortium Claim Worth?
Determining the value of a loss of consortium claim is not particularly easy because a monetary value must be assigned to intangible and subjective losses. Its worth will be decided at the discretion of the judge or jury, and they may take into consideration the extent of the injured spouse’s impairments, the impact on the uninjured spouse and their family, as well as how life was before the accident.
For example, say a spouse is paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident. The uninjured spouse may file a loss of consortium claim for loss of sexual relations, companionship, and help with caring for the children. The judge may feel the uninjured spouse is entitled to compensation for these losses unless, for example, they discover that the couple had been living in separate bedrooms and the injured spouse never cared for the children on their own.
Things To Consider
Before you file a loss of consortium claim, keep in mind that these cases can become highly invasive. An insurance company or the at-fault party may not easily agree to settle your claim, which means questions will likely be asked about your personal and sex life. Another thing to consider is that these claims do not always benefit the uninjured spouse. A loss of consortium claim could lead to additional losses since the at-fault party may be able to recover costs and fees related to the case if they win.