What is Loss of Consortium?
When an individual is injured in an accident, the entire family can suffer losses and damages, especially when the person sustains a permanent impairment or disability. In addition to changing the injured person’s life, the injury can negatively impact the family. The injured person may not be able to contribute to the family’s needs or enjoy the same relationship with family members that they had before the accident.
A person who was injured because of another person’s negligence or wrongdoing can file a personal injury claim. They can seek compensation for their lost wages, medical bills, and other damages.
However, Texas personal injury laws also give family members a legal means of recovering compensation for the losses caused when a loved one is injured. The legal term used to describe the damages caused by a loved one’s injuries is the loss of consortium.
What is a Loss of Consortium Claim?
Loss of consortium refers to the damages sustained by family members when a loved one is injured in an accident or through negligence or wrongdoing. Because of the injury and resulting impairments, a family member may experience the:
- Loss of household services and chores, including childcare, running errands, cleaning, and making repairs
- Loss of a parental relationship, including loss of guidance, love, support, protection, care, and affection
- Loss of a marital relationship, including the loss of affection, companionship, intimate relations, and emotional support
A family member might experience other damages because of a loved one’s injuries. Being deprived of the benefits of a relationship with a family member is a recoverable damage in a personal injury case.
How Do You Prove Your Case for Loss of Consortium?
In most cases, family members testify about how their loved one’s injuries have impacted their family. The injured victim can also testify about how the injury has impacted their ability to contribute to the family’s needs. Testimony from family and friends can also help in some cases.
Doctors and medical experts provide testimony about how the injuries can impact a person’s life.
For example, a back injury could prevent a person from lifting a child. It could also make it more difficult for a parent to play with a child and participate in extracurricular activities. Brain injuries could impair a person’s functions, making it difficult or impossible to engage in a meaningful relationship with family members.
Because each family is unique, how an injury might impact the family’s day-to-day functioning and the relationships are subjective. What might seem like a minor injury could disrupt a family’s activities substantially.
For example, for a single parent who sustains a broken leg that requires surgery and months of recovery, the injury could be overwhelming. As a single parent, the person may need someone to move in with them to care for their children. They may not be able to be as involved in their child’s life during their recovery.
The condition or injury does not need to be permanent for a family member to receive compensation for a loss of consortium claim. The loss can last throughout the person’s recovery, or it can be long-term.
Filing a Loss of Consortium Claim in Texas
Texas personal injury laws recognize that a spouse has a loss of consortium claim when a spouse is injured. Children may have a loss of consortium claim when a parent is injured. However, the state does not recognize loss of consortium claims for a parent’s loss of relationship with a child unless the child dies, or for step-parents or step-children.
The value of a loss of consortium claim depends on numerous factors. Factors that can increase the value of a loss of consortium claim include living in the same household, the evidence of shared activities, and a loving, stable relationship. The level of care is also a factor in a loss of consortium claim.
A factor that can decrease the value of a loss of consortium claim is the victim’s fault for the cause of the injury. If the victim is partially at-fault for the cause of the accident, the victim’s compensation for damages decreases by their percentage of liability for the accident. The same percentage is used to adjust the loss of consortium claim.
As with other personal injury claims in Texas, a loss of consortium claim is subject to the state’s statute of limitations. Therefore, do not delay filing your claim, or you could lose your legal right to pursue a claim.