Loss of consortium is the loss of moral support, companionship, or intimacy following an injury to a person’s spouse or registered domestic partner.
Who Can Bring a Loss of Consortium Claim?
In California, a claim of loss of consortium can be brought by the spouse or child of a person who was injured by the negligent conduct of a third party. The cause of action arises when a third party negligently or intentionally injures the plaintiff’s spouse such that the plaintiff no longer enjoys the injured spouse’s conjugal companionship, society, and sexual relations (Rodriguez v. Bethlehem Steel Corp. (1974) 12 Cal.3d 382, 408.)
What Needs to Be Proved in a Loss of Consortium Claim?
A spouse of an injured person must be able to establish the following elements to prove a loss of consortium lawsuit:
- Plaintiff’s spouse or partner was injured by another person’s negligent or illegal conduct
- The injured person and the plaintiff were lawfully married or had a valid registered domestic partnership at the time of the injury took place.
- Plaintiff suffered the loss of his spouse’s or partner’s consortium.
- The loss was a result of the defendant’s illegal act.
An Injury to the Plaintiff’s Spouse
The plaintiff must prove that the defendant committed a wrongful act against his spouse or domestic partner. Such acts can include:
- Gross negligence
- Intentional tort
- Strict liability under products liability laws or dog bite laws
How is Loss of Consortium Valued?
Generally, the judge or a jury will determine how much value to give a plaintiff for a claim for loss of consortium. Factors considered in loss of consortium claims include loss of:
- enjoyment of the marriage
- moral support
- ability to have children
- reduction of enjoyment in marital relations
- financial support
- emotional comfort and support
What Damages Can Be Recovered From Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium falls under the category of non-economic damages, this means that the loss is intangible, and can’t be proven through documentation. Because of the nature of the injury, spouses in loss of consortium cases will be asked about their marriages before the injury. While determining the amount of compensation the courts can consider the stability of the marriage, each spouse’s life expectancy, and the degree to which the benefits of the marriage were lost.
CACI 3920 Non-Economic Damages
According to CACI 3920, the spouse of the injured person can recover damages to reasonably compensate for the past and future loss of the injured person’s companionship and services.
What Damages are Not Recoverable in Loss of Consortium Claims?
Damages that are not recoverable in loss of consortium claims include:
- A recovery for financial assistance that the uninjured spouse has provided.
- Compensation for services the uninjured spouse has rendered, such as nursing the injured spouse.
- Compensation for the loss of earnings for the uninjured spouse who has taken time off work to care for the injured spouse.
Other Factors to Consider in Loss of Consortium Claims
A loss of consortium recovery will be correspondingly reduced in case the injured spouse was contributorily negligent. This means that in case the injured spouse’s negligence was partially caused the injury, then the other spouse’s compensation for loss of consortium will be reduced correspondingly.
Personal Injury Attorney
If you believe you may have a loss of consortium claim we invite you to contact our personal injury attorneys today at (310) 943-1171 for a free consultation.