When a loved one has suffered an injury in an accident, there are often a number of things that they cannot do for you or your family because of their injuries. For starters, they may be unable to work. However, they also fill a role in your relationship with your spouse that can be diminished because of their injuries.
The harms that this diminished relationship causes you may make you entitled to financial compensation in a loss of consortium claim. The California personal injury attorneys at the Sargent Law Firm Injury Lawyers can work to maximize your settlement check after you have established your legal entitlement to financial compensation.
Loss of Consortium Pays the Spouse or Partner for Their Personal Injury
In California, the scope of the loss of consortium claim is defined by common law. The doctrine has been developed in court cases over the years. One thing that does come from the statute is the fact that registered domestic partners have the right to file a loss of consortium claim as the spouse.
A loss of consortium claim recognizes that there are others who will suffer their own damages along with the accident victim. While the victim will clearly suffer the most, their spouse or partner, who loves and relies on the victim, will also suffer their own personal injury because the injuries will take away things that they received from their loved one.
The Scope of Loss of Consortium Damages
California law provides for loss of consortium damages in a personal injury claim. The law defines the losses as follows:
- The loss of sexual relations experienced by the partner or spouse
- The loss of love, guidance, and support from the injured party
California law is much more restrictive in who can file a loss of consortium claim than in other states. In California, a loss of consortium claim is limited to the spouse. The children cannot file this claim even though they suffered losses, too, when their parents suffered an injury or were killed in an accident.
It Is Not Always Easy to Place a Number on Loss of Consortium Damages
One of the main difficulties of a loss of consortium claim is that it can be difficult to place a number on the amount of damages that the spouse has suffered. The insurance company is likely going to have a completely different estimate of what the spouse deserves.
However, it is still within your right as the spouse to seek compensation because you have lost, either temporarily or permanently, what you were receiving from the accident victim before the injury.
How to Establish Loss of Consortium Damages in California
The value of the loss of consortium claim depends on what your relationship consisted of before the accident. You can expect the insurance company to ask what seems like very invasive questions wanting to know practically every detail of the relationship. They are trying to find a way to challenge your own claim or minimize what they pay you.
They will certainly ask questions about the sexual relationship, wanting to know what you may think are intimate personal details. You need to answer these questions honestly. Otherwise, you may receive less compensation or not even get it at all.
In every personal injury case, you have the burden of proof to show your damages. If you cannot prove your damages, you cannot receive money for them. There are several ways that the claim can be demonstrated:
- Your testimony about the quality of and nature of your relationship
- Testimony from family and friends who observed the spouses
- An expert witness’ testimony which can value what was lost
Obviously, loss of consortium compensation will depend on the severity of the injury. Permanent injury, or death, will result in much higher compensation. However, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for compensation in a loss of consortium claim.
The claim puts a value on the specific relationship as opposed to a relationship in general. If you and your spouse did not have a great marriage, it could mean less compensation because less was lost. The insurance company may even cast doubt on the strength of your relationship.
Loss of consortium claims are not well understood by many people. Therefore, you need an experienced personal injury attorney who can tell your story and work to maximize the size of your settlement, no matter how much the insurance company tries to substitute an “objective” formula for reality.
File a Loss of Consortium Claim With a California Personal Injury Attorney
The California personal injury attorneys at the Sargent Law Firm Injury Lawyers are here when you need a fighter. We do not hesitate to take on insurance companies when they are making life more difficult for our clients. Our attorneys are standing by and ready to talk about your loss of consortium claim in a free initial consultation. You can reach us online or call us at (844) SARGENT to begin the legal process. You owe us nothing unless you win your case.
Loss of Consortium FAQs
How do you win a loss of consortium case?
You must show that there was a valid marriage or registered domestic partnership. Then, you must show that someone else was negligent and caused a spouse’s injuries.
When should I hire an attorney for my personal injury case?
You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after you have suffered an injury because you can lose evidence and be subject to pressure from the insurance company.