What Is a Loss of Consortium Claim in California?
Loss of consortium is a type of loss experienced by spouses of traumatic accident victims. These losses are non-economic in nature and are filed by the spouses of the victims. However, they must prove they have a right to financial compensation due to the accident.
The California personal injury lawyers at LA Century Law are skilled in pursuing loss of consortium claims. Get in touch anytime to discuss your case.
The Legal Basis for a Loss of Consortium Claim
The California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) provides an in-depth explanation of the law. CACI 3920 states two issues that can lead to loss of consortium under California law. A spouse may file the claim following an injury or the wrongful death of a spouse.
The spouse may seek compensation for the following:
- The loss of comfort, companionship, care, assistance, affection, affection, moral support, and protection
- The loss of the ability to have children with the injured and enjoyment of sexual relations.
CACI goes on to say that no standard amount is set aside for such damages. The court decides the right amount to be awarded to the spouse of the injured or deceased based on the evidence provided, common sense, and reasonable compensation. Since this area is open, the onus is on the spouse to prove to the court the amounts that they are entitled to.
In addition, the amount awarded does not include any payments concerning injuries or treatments suffered by the victim. Therefore, it does not cover the following:
- The loss of income for they take time away to take care of the accident victim
- The costs associated with taking care of the injured, such as cleaning, nursing, and household services,
- Loss of financial support from the spouse
While the above rules appear in the CACI, it is unnecessary for spouses of accident victims to go to court to recover these amounts. Sometimes, the same can be done through the insurance negotiation process. Only if one cannot get the rightful compensation should one consider going to court.
How to Calculate the Loss of Consortium Award in California
Non-economic damages are intangible losses that cannot be directly quantified in cash. For example, you will estimate the monetary value of your spouse’s ability to engage in sexual enjoyment or bear children with you. The court may also reduce the amount to be recovered if the victim was partially to blame for the accident.
A judge’s jury will attempt to estimate the value of all aspects you bring up as things you will not enjoy with your injured or deceased spouse. Most of these aspects relate to marriage. For that reason, the court will check the stability of the marriage before the accident occurs to ascertain the value you would have gotten from it had the spouse been in perfect health.
The amount you get as compensation may also be affected by the insurance policy compensation limits. An example is if the policy has a $20,000 limit per person per accident, it will not pay more than that for the damages to the injured spouse and your loss of consortium claims. A court case will bring up the amount that it has already compensated for the injuries or loss of the loved one before an estimate is made.
There is also a cap on the maximum amount you can be compensated for non-economic damages in medical malpractice at $250,000 per victim. Spouses of such victims can recover up to $250,000 for loss of consortium.
How to Prove a Loss of Consortium Claim
Loss of consortium is compensation for the services you will no longer receive from your spouse. Your attorney will work with a marriage counselor, a therapist, or a physician to help prove that the accident has had a profound effect on your marriage.
You will need to answer the following questions:
- How has the injury to your spouse impacted the daily running of the relationship with your spouse?
- Has the injury affected your quality of life in any way?
- Has the injury affected their ability to show affection or love?
- Has the accident affected their ability to provide companionship or moral support?
- Is the spouse unable to enjoy sexual relations with you due to the injury?
- Is the spouse unable to bear children with you due to the injury?
- Are the effects of the accident and the injury likely to remain for their lifetime? If not, how long are they likely to last?
Other Areas to Check When Proving a Claim
There are four other elements that are likely to come into play when proving a loss of consortium claim.
Validity of the marriage
You must have been legally married to the spouse by the time of the accident or have entered into a registered domestic partnership. A cohabiting partner is not entitled to make a claim.
Tortious injury to the spouse and proximate cause
The spouse must have suffered an injury due to the negligent conduct of another party. In this case, the spouse makes a separate personal injury claim against the other party. If both of you were injured in the accident, you are still eligible to file loss of consortium claims if another party was negligent.
You cannot make a claim for issues like stress at work, challenging assignments, or a rude boss. The issue must be caused directly by the defendant.
Loss of enjoyment
The spouse making a claim must prove that they cannot enjoy some of the services they used to get from the spouse. The spouse may have been incapacitated so that they cannot partake in sexual relations or relational activities, or they may have become moody and do not give emotional support or affection.
Discuss Your Loss of Consortium Damages Claim with LA Century Law
Reach out to LA Century Law for loss of consortium damages in California. Our experienced lawyers will handle your case and guide you on the way forward. We have years of experience handling different aspects of accident-rated claims.
Loss of Consortium Claim FAQs
Is there a time limit for loss of consortium claims?
The California personal injury statute of limitations applies, which gives a two-year time limit to a loss of consortium claim.
Can you make a claim for loss of consortium alongside other claims?
Loss of consortium is regarded as a separate claim from other accident-related claims. You can make a claim for it even if you were compensated for the loss of the loved one or the spouse was compensated for their injuries.