Should You Sue For Loss Of Consortium?

philFrankelWhat The Hell Is That?

Considering this issue of Full Throttle is celebrating Valentine’s Day, I thought I would write about loss of consortium!  Did you think loss of consortium refers to a sexual relationship between husband and wife?

It does, but it’s more than that.  The “quality” of a marital relationship includes affection and emotional support, but it also includes the economic loss of services and loss of support.

Loss of services includes the value of chores and other work the spouse did around the house.  For instance, if your spouse can no longer clean the house or repair a toilet, you may have to pay a housekeeper or a plumber.

Loss of support includes the amount of money the injured spouse is no longer able to contribute to the spouse or family because of the injury. This is in addition to the injured person’s lost wages and is for the spouse.

But should your lawsuit include a claim for loss of consortium?  This should be answered after considering many facts about the case and family, your desires, and the opinion of your attorney.

We believe loss of consortium should only be claimed in a very few cases with serious permanent injuries where the plaintiff requires assistance.  Following are reasons not to allege loss of consortium for a spouse:

  • Money for a loss of consortium claim is awarded by a jury after trial. It is generally not included in a settlement and thus can negatively impact the amount of money you receive if you have to share it with your spouse (see below).
  • Successful loss of consortium claims are usually worth little to nothing (in rare cases, it can be substantial).
  • Juries often dislike them and may penalize the plaintiff for alleging the claim. Juries often think of marriage as “in sickness and in health, till death do us part!”
  • Alleging a claim can minimize the impact of your injuries on a jury which could result in a smaller award than you may have obtained without alleging the claim.
  • A less than perfect marriage can minimize the award so the defense will try to bring that out.
  • Your spouse can be called to testify in detail at a deposition about the most intimate aspects of your marriage and all other aspects of the loss of consortium claim.
  • Your spouse will testify a second time in front of six jurors at a public trial. In addition to embarrassment, it provides the opportunity for the defense to bring out inconsistencies in the prior deposition testimony.  If your spouse does not make a loss of consortium claim, your spouse can still testify at trial on your behalf without testifying at a deposition about the same issues.
  • Your spouse will have a separate claim and can retain a different lawyer. This more usually occurs if divorce is contemplated by the spouse during the lawsuit.
  • Your spouse will have to agree to sign release before the insurance company will issue a settlement check. Both spouses must agree if there should be a division (sharing) of settlement funds, and how much goes to each spouse.

There are at least four cases in New York State during the last ten years where a spouse was awarded near or more than $1,000,000.  Consider carefully before your lawyer includes your spouse in your lawsuit!

If you have a question you would like to submit, please send your question to FullThrottle@1800HURT911.com

Philip L. Frankel Esq. and Rob Plevy, Esq. are attorneys with FRANCKEL & PLEVY, LLP representing people hurt in motorcycle and other accidents.  Disclaimer: This article should be considered advertising for accident clients; is for informational purposes and should not be relied upon because it could contain errors; the correct information may be different for your set of facts even though they seem similar; and is not legal advice which should only be obtained by contacting Phil Franckel, Esq. or Rob Plevy, Esq. for a free consultation to discuss your specific circumstances at 1-800-HURT-911.

Our web sites are NYSeriousInjuryAttorneys.com, NYMotorcycleAttorneys.com and LIMotorcycleAttorneys.com.  If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident, speak directly to Phil Franckel 24/7 at 1-800-HURT-911 — 1-800-487-8911.

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