An accident or personal injury creates many different losses. Victims incur financial losses because of medical bills, lost wages, and other economic damages. They also experience pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-economic damages.
However, family members of injured victims may also experience loss. They may have a separate cause of action from their loved one’s personal injury claim. Their claim is called a loss of consortium claim.
What Is Loss of Consortium in an Illinois Personal Injury Case?
A loss of consortium occurs when a person is deprived of a family relationship. Spouses can file a claim for loss of consortium when the injuries their partner sustains result in the loss of affection, sexual relations, services, companionship, and society.
In addition to spouses, other family members may file claims to recover consequential damages. For example, parents and children may have claims for loss of services.
Calculating the Value of a Loss of Consortium Claim in Illinois
Loss of consortium can be broken into sentimental losses (i.e., loss of sexual relations, love, and affection). Loss of services are functional losses that could include loss of guidance, support, and care. A jury must determine the reasonable value for these losses now and in the future.
Determining the value of a loss of consortium claim is challenging. No specific formula is used to value a claim for loss of consortium. Instead, jury members consider the factors and circumstances of the case to decide what a reasonable value would be for the loss.
Examples of factors the jurors might consider include, but are not limited to:
- Can a spouse engage in intimate relations with their partner?
- Do the injuries prevent the spouse from conceiving a child?
- Is the family member able to help with household chores and childcare?
- Can the injured family member communicate with loved ones and express their emotions?
- Can a parent participate in their child’s life by attending events, helping them with homework, and providing care and comfort?
- How do the person’s injuries impact their relationships with their spouse and other family members?
The severity and type of harm a family member sustains directly influences the impact their injuries have on other family members. For example, a traumatic brain injury that results in permanent cognitive impairments could change the victim’s personality and/or memories. Therefore, the person might be unable to connect emotionally with family members.
Another example would be someone who sustains a spinal cord injury and becomes paralyzed. The injury would significantly impact the physical ability to participate in certain aspects of their family member’s life.
Insurance companies and defense lawyers often minimize and undervalue the loss of consortium that family members experience. However, an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer understands how to use evidence and testimony to accurately portray how a victim’s injuries impact their life and their loved ones’ lives.
Proving the Legal Elements of a Loss of Consortium Claim
You must typically prove the following legal elements to receive compensation for loss of consortium:
- Your loved one was injured due to the negligence or intentional torts of the person you are suing
- You are legally married to the injured person, or they are your close family member
- The injuries your loved one sustained qualify for a loss of consortium claim
- You sustained losses and harm because of your loved one’s injuries
Medical records are necessary to prove the victim’s injuries. Specialists and expert witnesses can testify regarding the severity of the injuries and how they impair your loved one’s physical, cognitive, or emotional abilities.
Does Contributory Fault Apply in Loss of Consortium Claims?
Illinois contributory fault laws reduce the compensation a person receives if they are partially to blame for their injury. For instance, if you are 15% at fault for causing a car crash, your compensation for damages is reduced by 15 percent.
However, Illinois sets a bar for contributory fault. If a jury finds you are 51% or more at fault for causing your injury, you cannot receive any money for your damages.
Contributory fault applies to loss of consortium claims. If your loved one was partially to blame for causing a car accident, the compensation you receive for loss of consortium could be reduced by the percentage of fault your loved one shared for causing the collision.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers to Discuss a Loss of Consortium Claim
Our legal team will work to obtain the maximum compensation for your personal injury claim. Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney at Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys. Let us help you receive the money you deserve after a negligent party causes you and your loved ones harm. You can call us today at (312) 726-1616.