So, What Exactly Is “Loss of Consortium” Anyway?

When you are in an accident, or hurt yourself in some way as a result of the negligence of another, you aren’t the only one hurt.

Who picks up the slack at home when you can’t tend to house or yard work? Who recognizes your pain, plumps your pillows and helps you put on your socks while you recuperate from neck or back pain? Who assists you with your other chores because you just don’t have the range of motion to pick up grocery bags or even your 20 pound toddler?

Of course, it is your spouse.*

Florida law allows for attorneys to include a non-injured spouse in lawsuits, since that person has also experienced a loss. It’s the loss of a fully functional, independent and productive wife or husband. While the injured party suffers the pain and disability, a spouse suffers as well. Maybe as a couple you’re less social since at the end of the week the injured spouse is just too tired to go out with friends.  Maybe the injured one is cranky, irritable, difficult to get along with for a time. It’s hard to cope with pain and oftentimes the frustration and nagging achiness spills over into anger.  And who is the person most likely to suffer from the ravages of pain inducing grouchiness? That’s right, the one closest to you.

A common misperception is that a loss of consortium claim is solely for the loss of sexual relations with your spouse. And this is certainly a part of it. Intimacy is a divinely intertwined part of every marriage, but, let’s face it, time-wise bedroom activities are a small part of every day in the life of a couple.

Another common misperception along the same line, is that if you present a loss of consortium claim, the defense is going to want to know all sorts of intimate details of your sex life, as if you’ve invited a virtual defense counsel into your bedroom to see all the current embarrassing inadequacies.  Nothing can be farther from the truth.  In actuality, few things make a defense counsel squirm more in deposition than when a plaintiff insists on imparting specific details of their sex life, before and/or after an injuring event.

On this subject, I advise my clients to answer in deposition (to the extent it is true, of course) that because of personal injuries sustained, intimacy has been interrupted both in quantity and quality of relations.  Or, as one of my clients stated when asked how his wife’s injury has affected their sex life: “I ain’t gettin’ any.” Kinda says it all, doesn’t it?

* – Loss of consortium claims are only recognized in Florida among legally married couples.  Same sex couples and common law marriages are excluded.

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