Loss of Consortium Damages

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In the typical action for loss of consortium, the non-injured spouse will sue the defendant for damages resulting from their inability to enjoy the same companionship, love, and affection that they had before the spouse's injury. This legal claim tends to arise after one spouse is seriously injured or killed by a third party's negligent or intentional acts. Here, we'll discuss how California law allows husbands and wives to recover damages for the said loss.

Loss of Consortium Damages | What You Should Know

In this article:

What Does Loss of Consortium Include?

Part of the damages for loss of consortium damages are losses suffered due to decreased or limited sexual activity between spouses. However, this type of damage covers much more. Basically, the non-injured spouse is compensated with the damages for the effects of the injury on previously existing spousal functions. As such, a claim for spousal consortium usually compensates the claimant spouse for loss or deprivation of the following:

  • services, such as caring for children and household chores
  • love
  • society
  • affection
  • companionship
  • emotional care and support
  • comfort
  • sexual relations

Even though a claim may include a decrease or change in sexual activity between spouses, the claim is usually much broader. In other words, a consortium is not limited to the couple's sexual relations. They primarily include all those aspects listed above.

What Are Non-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case?

Keep in mind that consortium loss damages are considered "non-economic" damages. These damages do not involve an exact monetary loss nor possess an objective cash value. In a trial setting, an award for this loss is usually left to the judge or jury's discretion.

Legal experts maintain that these damages will most likely be awarded in cases involving a spouse who has died or has been the victim of a severe injury. Loss of consortium damages is generally limited to these cases, not cases involving "minor" physical injuries to the injured spouse, although the law allows such claims.

What Does Loss of Consortium Damages Mean in California?

In California, a valid marriage license during the injury is a prerequisite to any claim for consortium loss. Further, California jury instructions explicitly define this loss as "loss of the spouse's love, companionship, comfort, affection, society, solace, or moral support; any loss or enjoyment of sexual relations or the ability to have children or any loss of the spouse's physical assistance in the operation and maintenance of the home..."

This means that aside from the actual victim's personal injury case against the party, or parties, liable for his/her injuries, the victim's spouse can also sue the liable party, or parties, for those losses listed in the jury instruction. The spouse's case would be a claim for compensation for the loss of consortium he/she suffered that resulted from the victim's injuries.

Juries and Damages for Loss of Consortium

It is essential to know that juries generally do not like a spouse who is not injured and trying to collect damages based on minor physical injuries suffered exclusively by their husband/wife. Thus, even though this is an area for potential damages in any injury case where the injured individual is married, many lawyers will not ask for consortium loss damages on minor cases for fear of a backlash against the uninjured spouse.

However, if it is a situation where there is a severe injury, then the attorney may ask, and it is appropriate, for loss of consortium damages.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today

Understanding the ins and outs of the loss of consortium damages is highly important if you feel eligible. Although you can claim one, consulting an expert in the field for legal advice is essential. Claiming loss of consortium damages may be complicated, but it's still best to know you are on the right track.

If you have questions about your potential claim for loss of consortium damages, contact one of our injury lawyers today for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

Editor's Note: updated 10.26.23 Photo by Edu Grande on Unsplash

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