If you suffer a serious accident, it might not be only you who suffers from the injury. Suppose, for example, that you can no longer enjoy sexual relations with your spouse. It is not at all unfair to say that in this situation, your spouse loses something even if they themselves were not physically injured. Loss of consortium claims typically, but not always, accompany car accident and other types of personal injury claims.
In fact, other close family members can file this claim as well. The multiplicity of possible claimants is what sets “loss of consortium” claims apart from other types of claims. Ironically, the injured party is the only one who does not file a loss of consortium claim. Courts can award similar types of damages for other reasons, however. At Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers we can help you.
What Is “Loss of Consortium?”
In Illinois, loss of consortium is “the loss of companionship, affection, love, comfort, or sexual intimacy” of a close family member that is caused by the actions of a third party. The third party’s actions are typically wrongful or negligent (careless).
Who Can File a Loss of Consortium Claim?
The Illinois loss of consortium statute governs loss of consortium claims in Illinois. Close family members – meaning parents, children, spouses, and domestic partners – can file for loss of consortium. If the victim dies, the executor (personal representative) of the deceased victim’s probate estate can also claim loss of consortium damages alongside a wrongful death claim. In many other states, only spouses can file loss of consortium claims.
Loss of Consortium Is Not Part of the Injured Party’s Personal Injury Claim
A loss of consortium claim is different from a personal injury claim, mainly because it is a close relative of the injured party who files the claim, not the injured party. You can lose a loss of consortium claim even if your relative wins their personal injury claim. Judges do like to try personal injury claims together with their associated loss of consortium claims for the sake of judicial efficiency.
Damages for Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium damages are intangible non-economic damages, as opposed to medical bills and lost earnings (economic damages) and punitive damages. Typical examples of non-economic damages (excluding loss of consortium itself) include:
- Humiliation and embarrassment;
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Shock and anguish;
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of society and companionship, and
- Emotional distress.
How do you place a monetary value on such nebulous losses? Well, courts do it every day, including damages for loss of consortium. Opposing parties also frequently negotiate values for loss of consortium at the settlement table.
These values are typically substantial. Your loss of consortium damages might even exceed the amount that the accident victim receives for economic damages.
How a Court Will Calculate Damages for Loss of Consortium
At the negotiating table, the value of a loss of consortium claim reflects the values the parties believe a court would place on this claim if the case went to trial. If the case does go to trial, the court will consider the following factors, among others:
- The living arrangements between the accident victim and the person filing the loss of consortium claim. Do the parties live together?
- If the claimant is the spouse of the injured party, how long has the marriage lasted so far? Is the marriage stable? You have more consortium to lose from a strong marriage than from a troubled one.
- How big of a role did the injury victim play in the role of the lives of the loss of consortium claimants?
- What level of care and companionship did the accident victim provide the claimant(s)?
Different courts might value the foregoing factors in different ways.
You can lose part or all of your loss of consortium claim if the injured victim was partly responsible for the accident. Illinois operates a “modified comparative fault” system. It works like this:
- Based on the evidence, the court will assign each party a percentage of fault for the accident. Your loved one’s percentage of fault might be 30%, while the other party’s percentage of fault might be 70%.
- The court will then apportion damages in exact accordance with the parties’ relative percentage of fault. If your loved one’s damages are $100,000, for example, they will lose 30%, or $30,000. You will lose the same percentage of your compensation, even though you weren’t physically involved in the accident.
Under Illinois law, accident victims cannot recover compensation if they are found to be 51% or more to blame. This scenario would also likely defeat any associated loss of consortium claims.
A Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You File a Loss of Consortium Claim
Chicago is filled with personal injury lawyers. Only a small percentage of them are truly effective, however. Yes, you might “win” your case. But if winning means settling for a fraction of the amount of money you deserve, is that really winning? If you have a large claim that is reasonably strong, you can definitely afford a top-tier Chicago personal injury lawyer because you pay nothing upfront.