Personal Injury Law Blog

Loss of Consortium Settlement Amounts in California

loss of consortium settlement california

When someone suffers severe injuries in an accident, that injury often extends beyond that person and affects their spouse or domestic partner. When the unthinkable happens to you, you may not know what to do next. If your spouse’s injury resulted in the inability to enjoy the same relationship you previously had, you might have grounds to file a loss of consortium claim. An individual brings a loss of consortium claim against the negligent party that caused the death or injury of your significant other. Proving loss of consortium requires the support of a qualified personal injury attorney. It may feel overwhelming, but missing out on compensation for a consortium claim could mean a loss of the financial support you need during such an emotionally trying time. 

What Is a Loss of Consortium?

Loss of consortium describes the loss of companionship, moral support, and intimate relations after an injury or death of a spouse or domestic partner. California jury instructions define a loss of consortium claim as including the following: 

  • Loss of companionship, love, care, moral support, protection, affection, etc.; and 
  • Loss of sexual relations or ability to have children.

A loss of consortium claim falls under the category of non-economic damages. These damages seek to compensate an individual for losing the steady relationship and companionship provided by their spouse or domestic partner. A jury bases a loss of consortium claim’s value on the spouse’s life expectancy or the injured spouse’s life expectancy, whichever is shorter.

Who Can Sue for Loss of Consortium in California? 

Only specific individuals may recover damages for loss of consortium. Specifically, spouses and domestic partners may file the claim. Although elements of a loss of consortium claim may apply to a relationship with a child, children are not permitted to recover loss of consortium damages.   

Is Proving Loss of Consortium Difficult?

Loss of consortium cases usually require individuals to testify that the injuries suffered by their spouse or domestic partner were so severe as to damage their relationship.

You must prove four elements to establish a basis for damages for loss of consortium, including: 

  • A valid marriage or domestic partnership existed; 
  • The spouse or registered domestic partner suffered an injury or wrongful death due to the negligent actions of another; 
  • The claimant suffered a loss of enjoyment of the spouse or domestic partner; and 
  • The negligent act caused the injury or wrongful death of the spouse or domestic partner.

A loss of consortium claim requires both spouses to understand that the closeness of their marital relationship, including their sexual relationship, will be called into question by the defendant’s attorney.

Multiple factors may be considered by the jury, including: 

  • The stability of the marriage;
  • The living arrangement of the parties;
  • The care and companionship given and received by each spouse; and
  • The life expectancy of the parties.

There are no fixed standards to guide a jury when determining a loss of consortium award. Your personal injury attorney understands what is needed to prove a substantial loss of consortium claim.  

How Much Is a Loss of Consortium Claim Worth?

The value of a loss of consortium settlement amount in California varies from case to case. Since loss of consortium damages are considered non-economic damages, compensation cannot be tied to specific monetary losses. Non-economic damages are intangible and subjective losses that relate to mental anguish and pain. For this reason, no receipts or invoices support a loss of consortium claim. 

Loss of consortium settlement amounts are awarded based on testimony. And you should be aware that this testimony will cover complex and sensitive topics like the loss of companionship and sexual enjoyment in the relationship. The law guides California juries to use their best judgment and award reasonable amounts based on the circumstances of the case. With no clear guidance, the strength of the evidence provided to convince the jury determines a loss of consortium claim’s value. For example, a permanent injury and disfigurement suffered by a spouse or domestic partner would likely result in a larger loss of consortium award due to the seriousness and permanence of the injury and the lasting and profound impact it will have on a couple’s relationship and their ability to enjoy one another’s company.

What Damages Are Not Part of a Loss of Consortium Claim’s Value?

Not all damages may be recoverable by a spouse as part of their loss of consortium claim.

Damages that are not recoverable in a loss of consortium claim include the following:

  • Any loss of income due to your spouse or domestic partner’s death; 
  • Any loss of your income given up to care for your spouse; 
  • Compensation for personal services provided to your injured spouse or domestic partner; and  
  • The cost of hiring replacement services to cover the tasks usually completed by your injured spouse or domestic partner. 

Although these losses may not have been incurred if the injury or death did not occur, they are not recoverable under a loss of consortium claim. But they may be compensable under other types of claims, which a personal injury attorney can explain to you after hearing the details of your case.

Contact Us

Joshua Glotzer and Daniel Leib of Glotzer & Leib, LLP are skilled personal injury attorneys based in Los Angeles. With extensive experience handling the many complex aspects of loss of consortium claims, they also understand the compassion needed in these emotionally sensitive circumstances. With over 50 years of combined legal experience, the attorneys at Glotzer & Leib have focused on empowering their clients to concentrate on getting better while they work to secure just compensation. Proving the loss of consortium in California is complex. Placing a value on something so personal and irreplaceable seems impossible. But we are here to help. Regardless of your financial situation, Joshua Glotzer and Daniel Leib stand by their clients to help you understand your options.

Contact our office today for a free consultation to determine how we can assist in recovering your damages for loss of consortium. 

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