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How To Tell If You Qualify For Loss Of Consortium Damages In Florida

How To Tell If You Qualify For Loss Of Consortium Damages In Florida

When you or someone you love has been involved in a personal injury accident of any kind, you may have the right to demand damages. When we usually think of damages, we tend to think of monetary losses such as medical bills, lost wages, or loss of earning capacity. What we don’t realize is that accidents cause more than just physical injuries. They can also cause emotional harm and stress to the victim and their family.

Relationships can also suffer due to an accident caused by the negligence of others, especially the relationship with a spouse. For example, if a victim is seriously injured in an accident and unable to help their spouse raise their young children. In this case, the spouse can sue the responsible party for loss of consortium damages.

What Is Consortium?

How To Tell If You Qualify For Loss Of Consortium Damages In FloridaHistorically, the relationship between husband and wife has been deemed worthy of being protected by the law. Consortium, as defined by the Florida Supreme Court case Gates v. Foley, is “the companionship and fellowship of husband and wife and the right of each to the company, cooperation and aid of the other in every conjugal relation.” Consortium does not just include sexual relations, however. It also includes  “affection, solace, comfort, companionship, conjugal life, fellowship, society and assistance so necessary to a successful marriage.” With that said, if the relationship of a husband and wife were to suffer due to an accident caused by the careless acts of another, the victim’s spouse could be eligible to file for loss of consortium damages only if the victim files for damages themself.

How Do I Know If I Qualify For Loss Of Consortium Damages?

In order for an accident victim’s spouse to qualify for loss of consortium damages, the victim themself must file a personal injury claim with a skilled attorney. Only then will the spouse be able to add their loss of consortium claim.

These four elements are required to seek damages for loss of consortium in Florida:

  • there must have been a valid and lawful marriage between the plaintiff and the injured spouse at the time of the incident. This means that if the marriage occurs after the injury, there is no right to recover damages for loss of consortium.
  • there must be an injury to the person injured that needed medical attention. Something as mild as bruising or lacerations that did not require the injured spouse to be treated medically does not count.
  • The loss of consortium must be approximately caused by the defendant’s negligent actions. Stated differently, the loss of consortium must have been the direct result of the defendant’s careless and negligent actions.
  • actual loss of consortium suffered by the spouse. For example, loss of services, affection, support, and others are all part of the definition of consortium.

It may be difficult or embarrassing to talk about this with anyone, let alone a stranger.  However, a loss of consortium claim by definition means a dive into your privacy. Your attorney will need all the facts, having an almost intimate knowledge of your relationship if they are to gain you the compensation you deserve. It is a very invasive, but important claim for you and your loved one. 

What Does Loss Of Consortium Damages Cover?

Some of the markers for consortium may not be marital in nature, but all are a form of togetherness. Things you do as a team. And to lose that other half of your life, even for a little while, could be devastating. 

Damages for loss of consortium might include loss of the following:

  • Help With Raising Children- Children can be a handful and to have a partner one day and not have them the next could be a devastating experience. 
  • Help With Household Chores- There are many ways to keep a household running smoothly, one such way is helping with household chores. If the victim of an accident can’t perform the same level of assistance, it could hinder the functionality of the household 
  • Companionship- When you’re married, that person is your best friend, your teammate. Talking about your day, the trials and tribulations, hopes, dreams. But, after a devastating experience such as a car accident, that could stop and your best friend could pull back until they’re little more than a stranger.
  • Sexual Relationship- In some accidents, a victim might be paralyzed or be badly injured to a point so that they can not perform for their spouse in a sexual setting. This could lessen the connection to the victim and cause the spouse to no longer be attracted to them.

Damages can also compensate for other emotional harm such as:

  • Shock- If a victim is disfigured or has suffered the loss of a limb, their spouse may take a while to get used to the new adjustment. The shock of seeing their loved one in a disfigured state could mentally scar them or make them become distant until such a time comes where they are capable of normal behavior around the victim. 
  • Mental Anguish- Some victims of accidents have nightmares, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may need the care of a counselor, which could put more strain on a marriage if the victim were to refuse care for an extended period of time. 

Talking With a Personal Injury Attorney In Florida

Relationships could suffer from the added emotional distress to an accident victim and their family. At Sheftall Law, our personal injury attorneys understand how stressful and scary it is being involved in any personal injury accident. With decades of combined experience, we have the legal knowledge necessary to take care of your needs and rights in these trying times and we will stand by your side until you receive the compensation you deserve.  If you or a loved one has been injured in any of these types of personal injury accidents in Florida, please contact a personal injury attorney at Sheftall Law at (904) 569-6025 today to explore the legal options that are available to you.