Loss of consortium is a type of damage that is available in many personal injury cases. “Loss of consortium” under Georgia law generally means the loss of one spouse for the other’s society, companionship, affection, and all other value that arises out of the marriage.
Marriage is a partnership, and when one member of that partnership is injured, they might not be able to do the same things that they did before to maintain the partnership. Loss of consortium addresses the loss of services, but it also extends much further than that. When someone loses a spouse, they lose affection, support, and so much more.
What Does the Loss of Consortium Really Mean?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the loss of consortium claims are all about sex or physical affection. While that can be a part of the claim, it’s often only a small part. The real value is losing everything that your partner used to do before the accident, whether that includes household chores or going out to your weekly date night. Examples of losses that are part of a loss of consortium claim may consist of:
- Decreased ability to communicate between the couple
- Additional burdens caused by medical needs (such as having to help your spouse with changing wrappings, using the bathroom, or moving about)
- Inability to particulate in social activities that you did before the accident
- Having to do household chores or childcare by yourself, instead of with the help of your spouse
- Increased stress because of having to complete tasks on your own or dealing with your spouse’s medical or emotional needs caused by the accident
If your relationship is in any way affected after an accident, it should be included in a loss of consortium claim.
How Do I Talk to a Jury About Losing Part of My Relationship with a Spouse?
Unfortunately, presenting losses like these to a jury can be difficult. It can be very uncomfortable for a spouse to discuss the problems in your marriage that have been caused by the accident. For example; if you and your spouse had a regular routine of playing tennis together on the weekends before the incident, it may be difficult to explain how that simple activity affected your marriage, and how not doing it anymore is straining your relationship.
The same can be said about other, very intimate parts of your life. You may need to tell people about your marriage counseling or individual therapy that you are engaging in because of the accident. It’s hard to share with a group of strangers what’s important in your marriage or the troubles you are having. But, you should keep in mind that many couples go through serious challenges after an accident, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Talking about these difficulties lets a jury know just how huge of an impact this accident had on your or your spouse’s life.
Who Can Claim Loss of Consortium in Georgia?
In some states, loss of consortium claims is also available to children and dependent parents. But, that’s not the case in Georgia. This type of claim only addresses the very unique relationship between spouses. You should also keep in mind that the couple must be married for this claim to be available—it doesn’t cover losses for significant others, even if you’re living together.
How Are Loss of Consortium Damages Calculated?
You may wonder just how the law can account for a loss that is so personal and difficult to quantify. The truth is that this type of damage is tough to put a dollar figure on. There really is no way to put a definite amount on this type of loss. Instead, the jury or judge will determine the reasonable value of this type of damage by considering the nature of the relationship between you and your spouse and the differences between that relationship after the accident compared to before the accident.
In cases where a spouse is killed, the jury will consider the life expectancy of both spouses as part of their analysis for loss of consortium damages. The jury will consider the lifetime loss of the spouse, which can be very significant, especially for young couples.
Many married individuals have a loss of consortium claim after an accident, but they may not realize it. John Foy & Associates can help you examine your situation to determine whether you have this type of claim and if you should include it as part of your lawsuit. Fill out the form to your right, or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.