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Should I Consider Filing a Loss of Consortium Claim?

couple sitting on rock looking at oceanIn personal injury cases, a loss of consortium may not be as obvious as suffering broken bones, but the pain, suffering, and emotional distress can be just as real. Loss of consortium is a personal injury that relates to the loss of spousal relationships due to an accident caused by negligence. If your spouse is injured in an automobile accident, suffers a spinal injury in a slip-and-fall accident, or even killed as a result of negligence, then you should consider filing a loss of consortium claim. As a surviving partner, you have a legal claim for a personal injury lawsuit. A loss of consortium is not for the injuries that your spouse has sustained, but rather a lawsuit for the impact that the injuries or death has had on the spousal relationship.

What is a Loss of Consortium?

The word consortium refers to a conjugal relationship of husband and wife, and the right of each to the other’s company, cooperation, affection, aid and support in every activity relating to marriage or the relationship of a married couple. In general, consortium includes all the aspects and benefits of the spousal relationship. Beyond the physical relationship impacted by an accident, the loss of consortium is a claim that can be an option in personal injury cases, brought by the injured person’s spouse.

Though a loss of consortium claim often refers to a spouse’s inability to engage in sexual activity as a result of the injury, the claim covers other types of changes that occurred to the relationship as a result of the accident or loss. A spouse may be entitled to pursue compensation for the loss of

  • affection
  • loss of emotional support and care
  • emotional distress in general
  • companionship
  • loss of reputation
  • pain and suffering
  • shock and mental anguish
  • loss of services and support in such things as income, household chores, or childcare

Basically, loss of consortium claims encompasses everything from help around the house to emotional support to physical intimacy.

Although most loss of consortium claims generally relates to a spouse of the injured party, in some states, they can also apply to other family relationships. In addition to the spouse, loss of consortium claims can be brought by other close family members such as a parent or child. If the benefits of love, affection, companionship, or care once enjoyed by his or her spouse, child, or parent is deprived, then damages can be recovered through a loss of consortium claim.

Maine’s Loss of Consortium Law

In Maine, loss of consortium claims must be filed by a spouse. Maine law (Title 14, Chapter 13, Section 302) states:

“A married person may bring a civil action in that person’s own name for loss of consortium of that person’s spouse.”

A Maine judge or jury may award you non-economic damages to compensate you for your pain and suffering, loss of companionship and family relations, emotional distress as a result of the injuries sustained through loss of consortium. If a wrongful death occurs, the surviving spouse may file suit to recover from the loss of companionship of the deceased, which may also include damages for emotional distress. The same applies to injured parties. In the event that a spouse is injured, a claim for loss of consortium may be brought by the victim’s spouse.

It’s important to note that Maine has a statute of limitations for filing a loss of consortium claim with regard to a wrongful death or a ski accident of two years. For other types of injuries, such as a slip-and-fall, an auto accident, or a medical malpractice claim that results in a loss of consortium, Maine allows a full six years to file your claim. Maine instituted a cap of $500,000 on pain and suffering damages in wrongful death cases.

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Should You File a Loss of Consortium Claim?

The fact is, injuries happen daily and most of the time people recover and move on. However, in some cases, accidents can permanently alter a family relationship and dynamic. Those family members that have suffered as a result of an injury to a loved one due to an accident could receive compensation. Maine law provides justice for those who have suffered injuries as a result of an accident, and the compensation to the victim and his or her families can be significant. If you are looking for assistance or have questions, contact the personal injury attorneys at Hardy Wolf & Downing.