The death of a loved one or a debilitating injury to an individual can cause serious emotional and psychological consequences for the victim’s spouse or civil partner. In California, the spouse or partner can claim compensation for their loss of affection, companionship, ability to have children and the intimacy they shared with the victim before an accident. Let’s look at the loss of consortium, how it is proven and the available damages.
Pursuing Justice for Your Loss of Consortium
In the days, weeks and months after a traumatic accident, it is difficult to envision a future without the love and affection that was the basis for a healthy marriage or civil union. In time, this loss can take a toll on even the strongest among us, and the need for insight into this issue becomes a priority.
That is where attorney David Azizi can help. He has the compassion and empathy that you seek and the legal experience you need. Super Lawyers calls him one of the top personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles. Give us a call to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. You will be able to learn what your options are going forward. Don’t let a negligent party rob you of the comfort and affection you had without finding justice.
What Is Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium is a legal term used to describe a standalone claim against a negligent party (the defendant). It is considered compensation for losing a spouse’s love, comfort, affection, sexual relationship and companionship. In short, the plaintiff spouse is saying that the injury suffered by their partner has injured them. Because their marital and emotional comforts are lost, they have a right to make a claim against the defendant. This ability to file holds true whether the partner or spouse was injured or wrongfully killed.
Helping a Spouse File for Loss of Consortium
A personal injury attorney can help a spouse who has lost their partner’s comfort and affection due to negligence or an intentional injury. While filing a claim will not bring back the emotional support and love provided by their spouse, it will notify the defendant that their actions caused this hardship.
Loss of Consortium Is a Non-Economic Damage
Some damages due to the death of a loved one or their injury are considered economic. This categorization refers to financial losses such as wages or the loss of a specific monetary amount. Economic losses can be calculated with the use of ledgers or other data sources.
The other type of damages is classified as non-economic and are more elusive and less tangible. They include the pain and suffering of an individual in a personal injury case or the loss of consortium in either a personal injury or a wrongful death. To quantify the loss a spouse feels is complicated.
Compensation in a Loss of Consortium Case
Since the damages in a loss of consortium claim are non-economic, detailing how much the case is worth is challenging. The following factors play a significant role in determining the final calculation:
- The overall quality of the marriage prior to the accident
- The quality of the relationship after the accident
- The couple’s living arrangement
- The relationship history, including separations, domestic abuse and infidelity
- Whether the spouse requires special care and the length of time it will be needed
- The status of plans made before the accident
Evidence is required to prove an injury claim exists and was caused by harm due to another’s negligence. In a few cases, it is unnecessary to prove negligence in California. An example of this would be a dog bite or injury due to a defective product. Claims in these cases do not require the injured party to prove negligence under California’s strict liability rule. Even though evidence of fault is not needed in the cases mentioned above, it is still necessary to prove consortium loss.
Proof in Loss of Consortium in Injury Cases
The spouse or domestic partner must prove that loss of consortium exists after their partner was injured. Some of the most common avenues of proof are:
- The injured spouse has become emotional and erratic.
- Since the accident, you and the spouse have been unable to pursue hobbies or do favorite activities together.
- The injured spouse has been unable to help with domestic chores, and you must do them or hire help.
- You and the injured spouse can no longer have sexual relations.
- Your spouse can no longer help you when you are emotionally upset or overwhelmed.
- The injured spouse can no longer assist with childrearing duties, and you must assume all responsibility.
Nurturing Spouse Must Lose Time at Work
California state will not permit an injured party’s spouse to file a claim for lost wages even under legitimate circumstances. For instance, the spouse who must miss work to care for their partner or children cannot claim lost wages since these are economic damages. However, in such cases, the injured spouse may claim that they need to pay for such services and claim these damages in their lawsuit against the defendant.
Value of a Wrongful Death Claim
The value of the loss of consortium claim varies according to the severity of the injury. In wrongful death cases or those involving life-changing injuries, the amount will be higher.
Other Proof Needed in a Loss of Consortium Claim
The loss of consortium claim must also show that:
- The injured spouse suffered a severe injury or died.
- The spouses were joined in a legal marriage or had a certified civil union before the accident.
- The defendant caused the injury due to negligence or intentional harm, resulting in the loss of consortium.
- Because of the negligent behavior, the spouse or civil partner suffered non-economic damages.
Evidence That Substantiates the Claim
The following are used in proving loss of consortium:
The investigation into the accident must show liability by the defendant, except in the instances mentioned earlier. This includes witness testimony, videos from surveillance and other cameras, Breathalyzer or chemical tests for alcohol or drugs and results of accident reconstruction techniques. Police reports documenting the accident or intentional display of violence are also helpful.
The spouse must produce a marriage or civil union certificate and documentation of the partner’s emotional and psychological trauma. A journal detailing the hardships suffered by the injured party’s partner helps. Medical statements from healthcare professionals about the long-term prognosis of the injured spouse are also used.
What If the Injured Party or Family Does not File a Claim?
In cases where the injured party or the family of the deceased does not file a claim, the spouse or civil partner may still file one. However, if the injured party or family in a wrongful death lawsuit loses their case, the spouse will not be able to file a loss of consortium claim.
Free Case Review for Loss of Consortium
The law firm of David Azizi will protect your rights in all types of cases. David’s experience and dogged spirit help to secure a successful outcome in 98-percent of his cases. Call him anytime at (800) 991-5292, or reach out to him online to schedule a case review.