The repercussions of an accident often reach beyond the individual who is physically injured. For example, the spouse of an injured victim could find themselves having to keep up the house, bring the kids to school, and pick up an extra job to financially support their family. What’s more, that spouse could suddenly lose the companionship, love and intimacy that formed the basis of their marriage. And if the injury is a substantial one, this could persist for a significant period of time.
Louisiana law provides relief to individuals who find themselves in this situation. Specifically, a “loss of consortium” claim can be filed against the person who caused the accident, which allows the spouse to recover damages for loss of service, loss of love and affection, and loss of support. At first glance, it would seem that every spouse should file such a claim; however, there are certain factors that should be carefully considered before doing so.
If a spouse claims an accident negatively impacted the quality of their marriage, it will become necessary to determine the quality of the marriage before the accident. This means otherwise private aspects of the marriage could become quite public, as they are subjected to questioning by a defense and plaintiffs’ attorney and explained to a judge or jury. Before filing such a claim, the spouse must be prepared to talk about private matters and have negative aspects of the marriage highlighted as the defendant tries to minimize damages.
Another important factor to consider is the underlying injury claim. In many cases, a spouse is a valuable source of information on how an accident emotionally impacted the injured spouse. They can also provide important details on what physical aspects of the injury the spouse is still dealing with. However, if the witness filed a loss of consortium claim they must be prepared for the defendant to make an argument they are exaggerating the injury in order to increase their own damages award. The risk is then presented that this valuable testimony will be discounted by a judge or jury.
Damages for loss of consortium can provide much-needed relief to a spouse whose life has been turned upside down. In many cases, such a claim is entirely appropriate; however, it is important that all aspects of such a claim be considered before proceeding.