People generally know that if they are injured, they have a right to sue the business or person who negligently harmed them for monetary damages to compensate them for their harm and losses. But most people don’t know that the lawful spouse, including a domestic partner, has a claim and right to sue for their losses as well. If someone else’s harmful act has deprived you of your loved one’s companionship and affection, you can demand they compensate you by bringing a loss of consortium claim against them. But here’s the catch…it must be brought within the injured person’s filed lawsuit. This claim, in legal terms, is known as a “derivative claim,” meaning it’s derived from the injured person’s claim. This derivative claim is known as a “per quod” spousal claim for loss of society and consortium. The claim covers many of the unexpected relationship adjustments caused by a serious injury, including losses in the bedroom.
If cases are settled before trial, meaning an out-of-court settlement, rarely is there a separate allocation or payment made for a spousal claim because it’s generally all rolled into one settlement number. That’s because if the injured person’s injury case is settled, the spousal claim will be dismissed as part of the settlement. However, proving a spouse’s claim can be embarrassing, emotionally challenging, and legally complicated without the help of an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney.
We at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., with our skilled injury attorneys experienced with winning loss of consortium claims, can pursue you or your spouse’s rights under the law. We rarely get into the “dirty details” but instead describe it for what it is – a loss of intimacy – and we communicate exactly that way. Call or contact us today for an explanation of your rights for your free consultation.
What Is Loss of Consortium?
Consortium is a legal term referring to the companionship, love, affection, society, comfort, and services provided by a spouse or close family member. Under New Jersey law, the deprivation of this consortium is a type of non-economic loss suffered by the spouse – and only the spouse – of an injury victim. A jury may award these individuals compensation in a personal injury or wrongful death case.
How to Prove Loss of Consortium in New Jersey
A loss of consortium claim can compensate the legally married spouse of a victim whose injury or death resulted from someone else’s negligence. To prove a loss of consortium claim in New Jersey, the plaintiff must show that they suffered a genuine loss of the intangible benefits of their relationship with their spouse. Lost relational benefits include:
● Companionship – The loss of the ability to spend time with the injured person and share experiences
● Love and affection – The loss of emotional support, physical affection, and marital intimacy
● Comfort and solace – The loss of emotional comfort and support during difficult times
● Household services – The loss of help with household chores and tasks that the injured person would have performed, including the new chores the spouse must now handle
To establish these losses, a plaintiff must present evidence such as:
● Testimony from the spouse and other family members about the nature and quality of their relationship with the plaintiff before and after the injury
● Medical records and expert testimony about the nature and extent of the injury and its impact on the victim’s ability to provide companionship, love, and services
● Documentation of the spouse’s own emotional and psychological distress resulting from the loss of consortium
What Compensation Can I Get for a Loss of Consortium Claim in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, compensation for a loss of consortium claim is for monetary damages – meaning it compensates for intangible losses such as emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. Here is what a New Jersey Judge instructs a Jury regarding the New Jersey loss of consortium law before they deliberate and return a jury verdict for loss of consortium.
New Jersey Jury Instruction: Damages — Per Quod Loss Of Spouse’s Services, Society And Consortium
A husband/wife is entitled to the services of his/her spouse in attending to the household duties, to companionship and comfort, and consortium, that is, marital relations. A plaintiff who is awarded a verdict is entitled to fair and reasonable compensation for any loss of impairment of his or her spouse’s services, society or consortium because of injuries sustained by him or her as a proximate result of the defendant’s negligence (or other wrongdoing). Damages may be awarded not only for total loss of services but for a worsening of their quality. [If appropriate the judge may charge,] Damages may include but are not limited to out-of-pocket expenses incurred in engaging the services of others to perform household duties previously attended to by his or her spouse.
The amount of compensation recoverable in a loss of consortium claim depends on the circumstances of the case, including the severity of the injury and the impact on the spouse’s relationship with the injured person. Economic losses can be brought that include a spouse’s obligation to return to the workforce, the cost of additional domestic help, and other expenses.
Some factors in determining the dollar amount of damages for loss of consortium include:
- The nature and extent of the victim’s injuries
- The length of time the injured person is expected to be impaired
- The injured person’s age
- The quality of the relationship between the spouse and the injured person before the injury
- The extent of the spouse’s emotional and psychological distress resulting from the loss of consortium
New Jersey law does not impose a specific cap on the amount of loss of consortium compensation. A jury will weigh the evidence to determine the money a plaintiff may receive for a loss of consortium claim.
How to Handle a Loss of Consortium Claim in New Jersey
If you or your spouse suffered a serious injury, it’s essential to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to evaluate your case and advise you on your options. Here are some steps you can take to handle a loss of consortium claim in New Jersey:
- Seek medical attention – The victim should get the appropriate medical care immediately. This will help establish the nature and extent of their injuries and the impact on their ability to provide companionship, love, and services.
- Gather evidence – Your attorney will need proof to demonstrate your claims, such as medical records, witness statements, and marriage records. Collect as much evidence as possible to help your attorney support your case.
- File your claim – Your attorney will file your claim with the appropriate court in New Jersey and serve the defendant with a copy of the petition.
- Attend mediation or settlement negotiations – Mediation or settlement negotiations resolve many cases, so be prepared to attend these proceedings with your attorney to work towards a fair resolution.
- Prepare for trial – If the defendant or their insurer does not offer you a fair settlement, your attorney must prepare for trial.
- Stay informed – Keep in touch with your attorney and stay informed about your case. Ask questions if you have any concerns or are unsure about any aspect of the case.
Talk to the Attorneys at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. About Your Loss of Consortium Claim
When choosing an attorney to handle your loss of consortium claim, consider their experience, reputation, and track record of success with similar cases.
Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. was established in 1981 and has provided legal services to residents of New Jersey and New York for over 40 years. Our team of more than 30 personal injury attorneys has extensive experience handling personal injury cases, including those with loss of consortium claims. We have locations across New York and New Jersey and can meet with you over the phone or via video chat at your convenience. We also have Spanish-speaking attorneys and can provide translators in many other languages.
At Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., we are proud of having secured over $800 million in verdicts and settlements for clients to date. Find out how we can help with your loss of consortium claim when you call or contact us online for a free consultation.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Since 1981, the compassionate personal injury lawyers at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon have been delivering results for our deserving clients. We are solely committed to helping injured individuals, never representing corporations. No matter how large or small your personal injury case is, you can trust that it is important to us.