Loss of consortium is refer to a claim that one is either temporarily or permanently unable to participate in standard marital relations due to interference from the physical or emotional damage sustained by an injured spouse. These standard relations include services, companionship, love, affection, and sexual relations that the injured spouse provided for the uninjured spouse before the accident.
In many jurisdictions, the uninjured spouse may not file a unique case claiming loss of consortium outside of the injured spouse’s case. Instead, the uninjured spouse may join in the injured spouse’s lawsuit on a claim of loss of consortium and be awarded damages unique from the injured spouse’s damages if the jury or a judge determines that the uninjured spouse was deprived of standard marital relations.
Typically a loss of consortium claim is not a substantial one unless the injured spouse’s physical damage is considered devastating, causing long-lasting injury including paralysis, incontinence, sexual dysfunction, or inability to walk. Judges may urge juries to take the following circumstances of the physically injured spouse into consideration when determining the loss of consortium damage amounts owed to the uninjured spouse:
- disposition and temperament
- social life
- services rendered in supervising the household
- acts of affection, love and sexual intercourse
These factors are quite vague and juries may misunderstand them. This can lead to either no consortium award or a consortium award that is exceedingly low or astonishingly high.
Some higher awards for loss of consortium in catastrophic cases include:
- A woman was awarded $1,800,000 for a loss of consortium claim connected with an award of $8,000,000 for the pain and suffering of a man who lost his vision following nine surgeries. In an appeal his award was reduced to $5,000,000 and the loss of consortium award was reduced to $750,000.
- A woman was awarded $3,000,000 for a loss of services claim in connection with her husband’s workplace fall which fractured his lumbar vertebrae, leaving him paralyzed, incontinent, and sexually dysfunctional. An appeals court reduced her award to $1,000,000
Some lower awards for loss of consortium in typical non-catastrophic cases include:
- $85,000 was awarded for loss of consortium connected with an injured spouse awarded $1,400,000 for a shattered elbow
- $100,000 was awarded for loss of consortium connected with an injured spouse awarded $1,050,000 for lower leg compartment syndrome, foot drop, and various injuries.