Loss of Consortium
December 20, 2022
When a person has been hurt or died due to a defendant’s negligence, that person’s spouse frequently brings a loss of consortium claim as a stand-alone action. A plaintiff’s loss of perks, including but not restricted to affection and sexual interactions, as a result of the severe harm or death of a loved one is specifically referred to as loss of consortium.
These are only a few instances of marital changes that could give rise to a Georgia, Atlanta, loss of consortium claim. If your relationship has changed, an experienced personal injury lawyer from our law firm can determine whether you have a loss of consortium claim and prepare your case.
What Does Consortium Mean In Marriage?
The biggest tragedy in life is the loss of a loved one, but other events can rob a person of their opportunity at happiness. Other situations that might cause a person to experience intense sadness include losing their mental stability and having a permanent impairment. Even these two instances affect the victim’s spouse and other close relatives in addition to themselves.
For those directly impacted by such events, it’s difficult, but it can also be too much to bear for close relatives that feel afflicted. This is when the “Loss of Consortium” claim under personal injury or tort law comes into play. Few people are aware that it’s a part of the law.
What Does Consortium Mean in Legal Terms?
The loss of advantages that a close or intimate relationship provides is referred to in law as “loss of consortium.” This may involve losing:
- Sexual relations
A personal injury claim may result from loss of consortium. However, unlike most personal injury claims, the personal injury victim who suffered physical harm or was killed isn’t the party who needs to be reimbursed. Instead, because it’s designed to make up for a broken relationship, only close family members, like a spouse, may file this kind of litigation.
The injured person’s family members may no longer be able to have the same closeness with the victim when the person is harmed or dies. Loss of consortium acknowledges these losses and gives surviving family members the legal right to compensate the person or organization that caused harm.
Loss of consortium is referred to as the absence of support, aid, affection, society, protection, marital intimacy, or fertility. A close relative of a victim who’s been hurt and is seeking a personal injury claim to obtain damages from the party at fault may also file a loss of consortium claim. Each state has its own unique definition of loss of consortium.
However, loss of consortium damages is completely non-financial according to Atlanta law. Only the accident victim is entitled to financial loss compensation following a serious (but non-fatal) accident. So, any compensation for loss of consortium given to the spouse of an accident victim shall not entail:
- Having to pay for nursing, cleaning, or other personal or domestic services;
- Losing the victim’s financial support; or
- Incurring income losses while caring for the victim.
The amount granted for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and comparable compensatory damages have historically been subject to restrictions, or “caps,” set by the legislature. The Georgia Supreme Court, however, overturned these restrictions in 2010, declaring that they “violate the right to a jury trial.”
Punitive damages are occasionally granted in loss of consortium claims. Punitive damages punish a defendant for egregiously careless or shocking behavior. A victim of an injury is not given compensation for their losses. Punitive damages, in contrast to compensatory damages, have a $250,000 maximum.
Who Can Claim Loss of Consortium in Georgia?
Every married person who suffers losses due to a personal injury claim brought against the other spouse is entitled to compensation. Before considering the loss of consortium damages, the marriage between you and your spouse, the injured party, must have been valid at the time of the accident. The claimant must then provide evidence of an actual marriage.
An expert personal injury lawyer should be consulted soon if you’ve been hurt or your spouse has been hurt, and you think you have a loss of consortium claim. A lawyer can thoroughly explain the law, assemble the evidence you’ll need to support your case, and fight for your rights in court.
It’s crucial to speak with a personal injury lawyer if you’re thinking about filing a derivative claim because it might be challenging to succeed in court without legal representation. Contact our law firm to learn more.
Can the Injured Party’s Children Seek Damages for Loss of Consortium?
What does the loss of consortium include if the claimant is the victim’s child? Loss of parental love, concern, affection, and spiritual support is meant by this (negligent injury). Even if everybody might agree that this benefits a child’s emotional development, parental loss of consortium is nonetheless a recognized legal term in Atlanta.
Sadly, the children of the injured parent aren’t allowed to make a loss of consortium claim in the State of Georgia. Parental loss of consortium is permitted in some other states, including Massachusetts, Washington, Florida, Arizona, and Connecticut, subject to respective laws.
The unfortunate reality of Georgia law is that losing a marital connection seems to have less of an impact on a child’s emotional anguish than losing parental care and a child’s affection in family ties.
Is Loss of Consortium An Intentional Tort?
If your spouse has been hurt physically or emotionally, you may be able to file a claim for loss of consortium. The harm must have been brought about by someone else’s carelessness or deliberate actions. Unfortunately, the damage must be ongoing.
Your spouse might file a claim if they were hurt in a car accident, by medical negligence, a faulty product, or as the consequence of an intentional assault. You may be able to sue for damages if this impacts your marriage negatively.
How to Prove Loss of Consortium?
A Georgia loss of consortium claim requires the proof of four elements.
- A Legal and Valid Marriage
Damages for loss of consortium aren’t calculated using a specific formula. The jury or judge will do their best to determine how much the component of your marriage was harmed due to your spouse’s injury.
Only the spouse who is negatively affected by the harm done to the other spouse may file a loss of consortium claim. Therefore, if Spouse A was hurt, only Spouse B could file a loss of consortium lawsuit.
While Spouse A may not specifically allege a loss of consortium, he or she does have a number of other general damages and solutions that are derived from their “pain and suffering” claim and accomplish the same thing (i.e. mental and emotional distress and suffering, disability, loss of enjoyment of file, diminished capacity to labor, etc).
Juries will consider a variety of considerations, including:
- The marriage’s stability. A couple on the verge of divorcing will find it difficult to distinguish the injury’s effects from the marriage’s pre-existing harm.
- The spouses’ expected lifespans. Young couples will be compensated more than elderly couples because they will face decades of difficulties and problems.
- The nature and scope of the relationship’s harm. This element may be crucial in determining how much a consortium claim is worth. These types of serious disruptions could result in a sizeable award for a loss of consortium claim if the victim is physically disabled due to a spinal cord injury, suffered from a traumatic brain injury that altered their personality or cognitive abilities, or needs constant care and attention and will for a very long time. On the other hand, a spouse’s broken leg that prevents them from doing duties and errands for a while won’t be seen as a major concern.
- Tortious Harm to a Single Spouse
The failure of one party to use reasonable care must have caused personal damage to one spouse. This implies that your spouse can sue the defendant for personal injuries.
You can still make a loss of consortium claim even if the accident caused injuries to both of you. You might pursue your claim if someone else’s actions led to your spouse’s injury.
- Consensus Loss Sustained by the Non-Injured Spouse
The non-damaged spouse must prove they couldn’t take pleasure in some part of their marriage to the wounded spouse. To establish this fact, it must be shown that the injured spouse’s capabilities or behavior have changed. One example of such a transformation is:
- Incapacity to take care of domestic responsibilities or help raise children;
- Alterations in mood, such as anger, melancholy, or anxiety; inability to partake in past-time pastimes with your spouse;
- Changes in one’s capacity or desire for sexual activity.
Traumatic brain injuries, for example, are known to change a person’s character.
- Nearest Cause
You must demonstrate that the changes in your marital relationship were caused by the defendant’s actions and not by another circumstance.
You cannot receive compensation, for instance, if your spouse’s irritation is brought on by increased pressure at work rather than trauma from a recent injury.
How Is A Loss of Consortium Claim Calculated?
In Georgia, Atlanta, noneconomic damages are compensable in loss of consortium cases. These are called pain and suffering damages.
Intangible losses are compensated for through non-economic damages. The projected monetary value of your spouse’s past capacity to participate in activities with you is one example of an intangible loss.
You’re not entitled to compensation for material damages, such as lost wages brought on by accident for your spouse. Additionally, if your wounded spouse was negligent in any way, the court may decrease your claim for loss of consortium in Georgia.
Direct proof of the cost is not necessary for loss of consortium damages. As previously stated, damages for loss of consortium are usually incalculable. A jury will hear testimony in these cases about the marital relationship before the harm or death occurred, and they will try to gauge how much has changed since the tragedy. The jury will then determine the value of the loss in light of their personal values (i.e. their enlightened conscience).
The jury will consider the joint life span of both spouses (how long they would have expected to live together as a married couple) when determining the total amount of consortium damages to award in wrongful death cases and incidents involving catastrophic injuries where the injury is anticipated to last for the remainder of one spouse’s lifetime.
To learn more about how a loss of consortium claim is calculated, contact our personal injury attorneys.
What Damages Can I Receive for Loss of Consortium?
In Georgia, a successful claimant in a loss of consortium action may pursue noneconomic damages to compensate for their losses. Unlike medical expenses or lost wages, non-economic damages don’t have a clear market value.
They’re entirely arbitrary. It’s reasonable to say that a claim is worth more the more serious and extensive the harm is. A claimant is prohibited from requesting the following damages:
- The inability of the injured person to provide financial support
- Payment for the services the claimant has rendered or will ostensibly render to the harmed party
- Any income lost as a result of the claimant leaving their job to care for the injured individual
- The price of domestic services provided in the home to offset the services rendered by the injured party
In Georgia, a person who loses the consortium of their spouse or domestic partner may be eligible to receive non-economic damages. There’s no set formula for calculating loss of consortium damages, and a jury may select an amount that is reasonable given the gravity of the harm. Naturally, the reward is higher the longer the injury lasts.
Losses That Cannot Be Recovered
The recovery will not cover economic losses for consortium loss. This implies that damages resulting from a spouse’s diminished earning capacity or medical expenses won’t be compensated. Damages for loss of consortium will not additionally include:
- Personal care for the disabled spouse, such as a nursing service
- Loss of the monetary assistance that the injured spouse would have provided
- Loss of earnings a plaintiff endured as a result of quitting their job to care for their wounded spouse
- Domestic assistance to take the place of those initially provided by an injured spouse
What Happens If a Spouse Gets Permanent Injuries?
Injuries sustained by the victim may permanently impact the victim’s connection with their spouse. Damages may be recoverable up to the injured spouse’s expected death. Life expectancy will be assessed in these situations based on how long it was before the spouse’s injury.
The goal of this is to protect surviving spouses from punishment when harm shortens their partner’s life expectancy. For instance, regardless of whether an accident seriously reduced a victim’s life expectancy, a jury may award a spouse a far higher sum of damages, including both past and future loss of consortium.
It’s vital to understand that jurors typically dislike non-injured spouses who attempt to recover damages based solely on their husband’s or wife’s modest physical injuries. Therefore, even though this is a potential area for damages in any accident case where the wounded party is married, many attorneys will not request consortium loss damages on minor instances out of concern for retaliation against the uninjured spouse.
However, if there has been a catastrophic injury, the attorney may petition for loss of consortium damages, which is fair.
How Do You File a Loss of Consortium Personal Injury Claim?
If the harm to your spouse or partner has caused a loss in your relationship, you can be entitled to compensation under Georgia’s loss of consortium rules.
You can make a personal injury claim regardless of whether your spouse files their own case; you’ll do it apart from any action your spouse brings.
However, time could be crucial. Your claim for loss of consortium will be invalidated if your spouse files a personal injury lawsuit and loses because the court has already ruled in the defendant’s favor.
Contact our personal injury attorneys to discuss the specifics of the incident and your legal options if your spouse was severely hurt due to someone else’s carelessness or wrongful act. You may be eligible for monetary compensation. A good attorney-client relationship is important since honesty and strong communication are pivotal.
Consortium Loss and Comparative Fault
Drivers who are found to have contributed to an accident can still be awarded damages for their injuries under Georgia’s comparative fault system. However, their share of fault-based compensation eligibility is diminished. This percentage reduction also impacts damages from the loss of consortium.
Consider a scenario where the wounded motorist is requesting $20,000 in loss of consortium damages, for instance. The claim is lowered by $8,000 if the driver is determined to have been 40 percent at fault for the collision. The eligibility for loss of consortium damages is thus reduced to $12,000.