Accidents can cause more than just physical injuries. They also cause emotional harm to the victim and the victim’s family.
When someone’s negligent or intentional actions caused your loved one’s harm and your emotional pain, you may be able to sue.
One type of emotional harm is loss of consortium, or loss of companionship. If you can’t enjoy a relationship with your loved one like you could before the accident, you may have a loss of consortium claim.
What Does Loss of Consortium Mean?
The Florida Supreme Court, in Gates v. Foley, defined consortium as “the companionship and fellowship of husband and wife and the right of each to the company, cooperation and aid of the other in every conjugal relation.”
The court said that consortium includes more than just a sexual relationship and includes “affection, solace, comfort, companionship, conjugal life, fellowship, society and assistance so necessary to a successful marriage.”
What Damages Are Involved?
Loss of consortium claims compensate a spouse for non-economic harm suffered as a result of the accident victim’s injury. In other words, they involve intangible losses rather than monetary losses.
Damages might include loss of the following:
- Help raising children,
- Help with household chores,
- Companionship, and
- Sexual relationship.
Damages can also compensate for other emotional harm such as:
- Mental anguish, and
- Emotional distress.
It may be difficult to talk about how your life has changed since your loved one’s accident. Our compassionate attorneys handle all negotiations for you so that a loss of consortium claim stresses you as little as possible.
However, you should know that a claim for loss of consortium in Florida necessitates invasion of your privacy.
Defense attorneys may ask you personal questions and bring up painful subjects. For instance, if there was ever an extramarital affair, you can expect that to be brought into the record.
We don’t offer this caution to discourage you from filing a loss of consortium claim, since the compensation can make a big difference to your family. We just want you to know what to expect, so you can make an informed decision.
How Much Compensation Is Available?
It can be difficult to put a price on emotional harm. We know that no amount of money can replace the relationship you once had with your spouse. However, our attorneys will calculate a reasonable damages request based on the extent of harm suffered.
What Are the Loss of Consortium Elements to Prove?
To file for loss of consortium, your loved one must have suffered a substantial injury that limits their relationship with you.
While the injury doesn’t have to be permanent, minor injuries like bruises would not be enough to allow a loss of consortium claim.
These four elements are required to seek damages for loss of consortium in Florida:
- You must have been married at the time of the injury;
- The defendant must have negligently or intentionally caused your spouse’s injury;
- The defendant’s conduct would be reasonably known to put others at risk of harm; and
- You suffered actual loss of consortium.
Additionally, your spouse’s personal injury claim must be valid for you to obtain damages for loss of consortium.
If your spouse cannot file a personal injury claim, you cannot file a loss of consortium claim. However, your claims are distinct, and you may pursue independent legal options.
For instance, let’s say that you and your husband enjoyed a happy marriage. He helped with cooking and cleaning, picked the kids up from school, and mowed the lawn each weekend. You also chatted with him about your day over dinner and enjoyed plenty of romantic time together.
Then, a car accident leaves your husband a paraplegic. He can’t help in any of the ways he used to, and your relationship is completely different. In this sad situation, you can sue for all the physical and emotional support that your husband is unable to provide.
The money won’t restore your marriage to what it was before the accident, but compensation can make life easier.
You might be able to use a settlement to hire a housekeeper or a therapist for yourself. Compensation helps you start to rebuild upon all that was lost.
Should You Hire a Lawyer?
If your relationship has suffered due to an injury caused by someone’s negligence, you should consult with our attorneys at Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon.
We offer a complimentary consultation where we can listen to your experience and evaluate whether you have a claim for loss of consortium in Florida. If you hire us, we work on contingency, so you pay nothing until we settle your case.
Our attorneys are experienced, compassionate legal professionals who have been helping clients through difficult circumstances for decades. We want to help you seek justice for the harm you suffered.