When a person is injured in an accident, that person might sustain physical injuries. They may also incur financial losses and experience substantial pain and suffering. Florida tort laws allow injured victims to seek compensation for damages by filing a personal injury claim.
The person’s non-injured spouse may also have a claim for “loss of consortium.” This claim is separate from the personal injury claim filed by the victim. However, the loss of consortium claim and the personal injury claim may be filed and heard simultaneously.
What is Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium is a legal action belonging to a family member of an injury victim, usually a spouse. These claims seek compensation for the effect of a person’s injury on the spouse.
A loss of consortium claim might include damages for loss of:
- Sexual relations
Who Can File a Loss of Consortium Claim in Florida?
Florida laws permit spouses to file loss of consortium claims.
The non-injured spouse has the burden of proving each of the following elements:
- The injured spouse and the non-injured spouse were legally married at the time the injury occurred
- The at-fault party caused the accident or incident that injured the spouse
- The injured spouse sustained an injury that would qualify for a loss of consortium claim
- The conduct of the party accused of negligence was reasonably known to put others at risk of injury
- The non-injured spouse sustained an actual loss of consortium because of their spouse’s injuries
The loss of consortium claim belongs to the non-injured spouse. Therefore, the injured spouse cannot settle the loss of consortium claim, and the damages are only paid to the non-injured spouse.
In a few cases, courts have allowed children to file loss of consortium claims when a parent has been injured or wrongfully killed.
How Are Loss of Consortium Claims Valued?
The value of the loss of family or spousal relations is not always clear. A loss of consortium claim is not a tangible loss. Instead, the loss is calculated by how the injured spouse’s condition affects the spousal relationship.
For example, a spouse may be unable to:
- Have sexual relations
- Conceive a child
- Help with household chores
- Assist with raising children
- Offer meaningful support and guidance
- Express emotions and feelings of love
A loss of consortium claim makes up for these losses the only way the law can: through money damages. Spouses who plan to bring a loss of consortium claim need to understand that the information used to place a value on the claim could be highly sensitive and personal.
You may be questioned about your previous sexual history with your spouse and whether you intended to conceive additional children. The defense counsel may question you, your spouse, and any other witnesses about how often you argue and whether you spend time together doing activities. Thus, your entire relationship could be put on trial when you file a loss of consortium claim.
A Clearwater personal injury attorney can explain the pros and cons of filing a loss of consortium claim. The attorney can also provide an honest assessment about your chances of winning the case and what you might expect to receive from your claim.
Are There Deadlines for Filing a Loss of Consortium Claim?
Yes, the same statute of limitations in Florida injury claims applies to loss of consortium claims. For many personal injury cases, the deadline to file a loss of consortium claim is four years from the date of injury. However, the deadline for filing a loss of consortium claim related to wrongful death cases and medical malpractice claims is two years.
It is best to seek legal advice regarding the deadlines for filing injury claims from an experienced personal injury lawyer. You could lose your right to damages for a loss of consortium claim by waiting too long to seek legal advice.
Contact Our Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you or your spouse has been injured in an accident, you both might be entitled to compensation for injuries and damages. We want to help you get the money you deserve for pain, suffering, and financial losses.
Contact our Cleawater law office to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Clearwater personal injury lawyer today at (727) 796-8282 . Get the legal advice you need to protect your best interests.