Loss of consortium
When a spouse is injured, the non-injured spouse may suffer losses that the law will compensate him or her for. Those losses include loss of the injured spouse’s companionship, services around the home, love, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support. These losses are referred to generally as a “loss of consortium” and the claim as a “spousal claim.”
Emotional distress, loss of income, and costs incurred are NOT included because they don’t fit the definition of “consortium” (which basically means “companionship”) but there are other causes of action to claim compensation for those things.
In few cases is it clear whether the non-injured spouse lost consortium. Therefore the legal team must be on the lookout for it. Certainly a catastrophically injured spouse will not be able to provide consortium to his or her spouse, children or others who may have counted on it. But even such a case does not clearly call for a spousal claim because both spouses would be pressing claims against the same insurance policy, most of the time.
The best practice is for the legal team to take notice of the circumstances and then for the lead attorney to directly ask the non-injured spouse whether he or she wishes to make a spousal claim.
When a child loses a parent, or vice-versa
When a child loses a parent, or vice-versa, there also is a loss of consortium. However, the cause of action is simply referred to as “wrongful death.”
If a child or parent is catastrophically injured, there is a loss of consortium but the stronger case might be negligent infliction of emotional distress.