I originally posted this almost THREE YEARS AGO – time to look at it again ?

Compensating The Spouse and Family of The Injured: Loss of Consortium Claims


In a personal injury or wrongful death case, the family members of the injured person — spouse/partner, children and parents — can file a lawsuit for their own loss.

Talk to a local personal injury lawyer:

Most states permit spouses or family members of the injured person to recover damages for loss of consortium against the defendant in a personal injury case. Loss of consortium is meant to compensate the spouse or family member of a person who has been injured or killed because of the negligence or otherwise wrongful act of the defendant. This article will explain the legal elements of a loss of consortium claim.

What is Loss of Consortium?

Loss of consortium is a claim for damages suffered by the spouse or family member of a person who has been injured or killed as a result of the defendant’s negligent or intentional, or otherwise wrongful acts.

But what are those damages exactly? The concept is that, as a result of the defendant’s actions, the person who was injured or killed cannot provide his or her spouse or family member with the same love, affection, companionship, comfort, society, or sexual relations that were provided before the accident. So, the spouse or family member of the person injured has a claim against the third party for those losses.

Typically, claims for loss of consortium are not awarded unless the person injured dies or suffers a severe and enduring injury — such as paralysis, amputation, or incontinence.

How is the Loss Calculated?

Loss of consortium is a type of harm that falls under the category of general damages. General damages are non-economic damages, meaning they are losses for which money is only a rough substitute. Other examples of general damages include:

Typically, this type of an award is left to the discretion of the judge or jury. However, since this type of damage is difficult to quantify, you will likely have to retain an expert to provide a more precise monetary value for a loss of consortium claim.

Who Can Bring a Loss of Consortium Claim?

Spouses and Partners

Historically, only spouses could bring a claim for loss of consortium. Many states, however, have recently relaxed this requirement and permit committed partners or same-sex couples to file a lawsuit alleging loss of consortium. The rules are different in each state.

Children and Parents

Some states also permit a child or parent to file a loss of consortium claim. In such a circumstance, the child or parent would argue that his or her injured parent or child is no longer able to provide the same level of care, nurturing, and affection as he or she provided prior to the injury. In this situation, the child or parent would have to show that the parent/child relationship was irrevocably altered by the physical injury.

Limitations on Loss of Consortium

Your loss of consortium claim may be limited by your state’s laws (or by an insurance policy if you’re making a claim).

Legal Limitations

Each state has its own limitations on the availability of loss of consortium claims. In most jurisdictions, for example, in order to bring a claim for loss of consortium, you will need to show that a valid marriage exists. So, if the couple divorced prior to the trial, the amount of damages awarded will be negatively affected.

Other states, as discussed above, may allow same-sex couples to bring loss of consortium claims, even in states where same-sex marriage is prohibited.

Insurance Policy Limitations

Most liability policies include “single injury” limitations. This means that there is a cap on the amount covered by the insurance company per accident. In order to determine whether or not there is a policy limit, you will need to read the insurance policy. Unless the defendant is wealthy or has some significant assets, it’s usually not possible to collect more compensation than the insurance policy allows.

What to Consider Before Making a Loss of Consortium Claim

By bringing a loss of consortium claim, the private and intimate aspects of your marriage will be put at issue. So, you should consider whether you are willing to withstand the rigorous questioning — during deposition and trial — that the defense attorney will likely bring.

If the marriage suffered through any hardships or tribulations prior to the injury such as infidelity, separation, criminal charges, or abuse — the circumstances surrounding those problems will likely be discussed ad nauseum in front of the judge and jury, and will be a part of the public record.

This is probably the last thing that a prescriber would be expecting.. is being sued by a spouse and kids over one spouse having their pain meds cut and end up being house/bed/chair confined… basically under “house arrest” … in the worse sort of way.

I am no attorney, but the spouse having an attorney send a letter informing the prescriber that unless the chronic pain spouse’s pain management is restored to previous levels – where their pain management was optimized and they were much more functional… the spouse is going to sue the prescriber…  the attorney might also wish to include a warning that if the prescriber discharges the chronic painer that the chronic painer will  be suing for pt abandonment  and retaliation because of the legal letter received from the chronic painer’s spouse.

The prescribe may have “painted” themselves into a corner… and he/she might find it acceptable to make this one exception to treat this one pt… because if a lawsuit is filed… how many more chronic painers in the practice and their spouses could follow the same path ?

6 Responses

  1. […] In a personal injury or wrongful death case, the family members of the injured person — spouse/partner, children and parents — can file a lawsuit for their own loss. A interesting concept […]

  2. My 13 year old son could bring a claim for the loss he suffers from my substandard care correct? Without the dangers of bringing up intimacy problems within the marriage. Because he’s just a kid. So it seems like minor children would be the way to go if they can bring a suit? Does anybody know the answer to this question.

  3. Everyone with a family member who committed suicide because of a lack of adequate pain relief should consult with an attorney to see if they have a case.

  4. great read Steve

  5. Check this out. https://avacen.com/

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