When someone is injured in an accident, particularly a catastrophic accident, we often focus on the person who was injured and label him or her the victim—as we should. But it is easy to forget that in these kinds of cases, there are other victims as well, and the suffering can often extend beyond just the person who is injured.
Law Allows for Consortium Claims
We tend to overlook the loss suffered by family members of a victim who is injured. They are often burdened not just with coping with a loved one’s injuries and needs, but the loss of the way things used to be.
The law does allow for family members and loved ones of a victim to recover for damages in these kinds of situations. The claim is often called a consortium claim (or loss of consortium). In consortium claims, the loved one is an additional plaintiff in the lawsuit, suing the negligent defendants alongside the injured person.
Consortium claims can be powerful, allowing a jury to hear how the lives of the victim and his family have changed from someone other than the victim. This different perspective can lend a different voice to how an accident affects a family.
Damages in Consortium Claims
Consortium claims are claims for anything in a relationship that is lost when someone gets injured. They can include the loss of companionship between a husband and wife, marital problems, (such as fighting that arises because of a spouse’s injuries), or simply the loss of the ability to do things a couple used to enjoy, such as taking walks or shopping together.
The spouse may not be able to engage in activities that he or she used to enjoy because of the injured spouse’s increased physical or emotional needs after an accident. The spouse may have to spend more time caring for the children at the detriment of his or her own career or hobbies because of the injured spouse’s inability to do so.
It is important to remember that if someone has a consortium claim, he or she may have to testify as to sensitive information. It can be difficult to tell a jury of strangers how much you now fight with a spouse. It may even make someone feel guilty to say that driving a spouse who can not drive him or herself everywhere he or she needs to go is creating difficulty.
You can be certain that a defendant seeking to dispute a consortium claim may ask invasive questions about a couple’s intimate life, prior marriage counseling, and mental health issues.
Still, for couples that have had their lives torn apart due to a major injury, a consortium claim can be an opportunity to recover from a significant aspect of damages arising out of injury, and one that jurors are often sympathetic towards.
Make sure you obtain recovery for every aspect of your damages after sustaining an injury. Contact the personal injury attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss any and all claims you may have.