When a spouse is injured in a car accident, slip and fall or other personal injury matter, the non-injured spouse could be entitled to loss of consortium damages.
What are loss of consortium damages? Consortium generally refers to the services, comfort, society and attentions of a spouse. It does not simply mean that the injuries prevent the married couple from engaging in marital sexual relations like before the car accident or other similar personal injury matter. Loss of consortium also means losing the companionship and fellowship of a husband and wife to each other.
At a jury trial involving injuries to one spouse, the judge would instruct the jury as follows:
On the claim brought by (spouse), you should award (spouse) an amount of money which the greater weight of the evidence shows will fairly and adequately compensate (spouse) for any loss by reason of [his wife’s] [her husband’s] injury, of [his] [her] services, comfort, society and attentions in the past [and in the future] caused by the incident in question.
Quite the legalese, isn’t it? In essence, loss of consortium damages include things such as the non-injured spouse having taking on more housework or childcare responsibilities because of the injured spouse’s injuries; a spouse taking time off from work to stay home and care for the physical needs of the injured spouse; going to movies, dinners, spending time with friends or other physical activities that the couple used to enjoy but can no longer enjoy together because of the injuries.
What is the value of the loss of consortium damages? That is impossible to answer to injuries after a car accident or other personal injury matter impact couples differently. Ultimately, the value of a loss of consortium claim is decided by a jury. Candidly, Florida juries do not make large awards for loss of consortium claims in most situations. Maybe it is because of the marriage vow of “for better or for worse, through sickness and in health.” However, an injury can result in a substantial change for the worse in a vibrant marriage after a car accident, and an award of damages for loss of consortium should be considered.
Give your spouse lots of consortium this St. Valentine’s Day. Drive safely, and watch out for those who don’t!
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.