Can I file a claim loss of consortium?
No one wants to think about losing the love, affection and support of a spouse, but the law affords remedies when serious injuries arise from the negligent actions of another. Whether your partner suffered catastrophic spinal cord injuries after falling down a staircase, or was left comatose after a car accident, you may have the right to file a claim alleging loss of consortium against the negligent party.
While no dollar figure can compensate for your loss of companionship and love, the monetary award can help alleviate your financial strains during an especially difficult time. One of our experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyers will have knowledge of California’s legal requirements for pursuing a loss of consortium claim, for both spouses and registered domestic partners.
What is a loss of consortium claim?
A loss of consortium refers to the deprivation of moral support, companionship, sexual intimacy and affection following a wrongful injury or death of a spouse. If your partner’s injury is so severe and incapacitating that you are no longer benefiting from their emotional care, protection, comfort, society and general enjoyment you had in the relationship, then you may qualify for loss of consortium damages.
As a plaintiff filing a loss of consortium claim in California, you are able to seek only non-economic damages, which are defined as: losses for inconvenience, mental suffering, emotional distress, pain, suffering, inconvenience, injury to reputation, loss of society and companionship, and humiliation.
Recovery does not account for financial losses
Under California law, a loss of consortium claim cannot seek to recover the following:
- The loss of earnings or wages that the claimant has incurred by taking off work to care for the injured spouse or partner
- The loss of financial support from the injured spouse or partner
- The expenses associated with hiring a maid or other household help to perform chores the injured spouse would have normally provided
- In-home nursing care or other personal service that the plaintiff has or will provide to their injured partner or spouse
If the spouse’s injuries are permanent in nature, loss of consortium damages can extend to the end of the life of whichever spouse is older at the time of the accident.
Valid marriage is required to file a claim for damages
In California, the only parties legally able to file a loss of consortium claim in a personal injury or car accident claim are:
- Registered domestic partners
- Spouses (same sex spouses included)
The plaintiff must prove that they had a valid, lawful marriage to their spouse at the time of the accident in question. Some states will allow unmarried couples who have lived together for long periods of time to file a loss of consortium claim if the other is severely injured; however, California is not one of them. In addition, a child cannot bring a loss of consortium action for an injury suffered by the parent, or vice versa. This cause of action is limited to married couples or registered domestic partners.
Elements to prove in a loss of consortium claim
A plaintiff must demonstrate the following four elements to prevail in a claim for loss of consortium:
- A valid and lawful marriage or registered domestic partnership
- A negligent or wrongful injury to the partner or spouse
- A loss of consortium was suffered by the plaintiff
- These losses were a result of the injury to the partner or spouse
The very nature of this action makes proving damages incredibly challenging. Plaintiffs need to understand that it will entail discussing sensitive topics about the intimate details of their relationship with their significant other. For that reason, it’s important to choose one of the most reputable Los Angeles car accident attorneys you can find, and with whom you feel wholly comfortable. Any problems in your partnership or marriage, like deception or infidelity, will likely be brought up by the defense. At Ellis Law, our Los Angeles injury attorneys treat your case with the compassion, discretion and sensitivity it deserves.
Schedule your free consultation with Ellis Law
Leveraging more than 25 years of experience, Ellis Law attorneys know how to maximize loss of consortium damages while lessening the stress our clients face following the serious injury of a loved one.
Experience, professionalism and integrity matters in your choice of legal representation. If your loved one was severely injured in an accident, contact Ellis Law for a free consultation with a veteran personal injury attorney today.