What Are Loss of Consortium Claims in Pennsylvania?

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A loss of consortium claim occurs when an uninjured spouse becomes deprived of their married relationship due to someone else’s gross negligence or wrongdoing. This often applies if the spouse has become injured or killed by another party’s negligence, resulting in the pain and suffering of the uninjured spouse.

The laws around the loss of consortium in Pennsylvania are slightly different than the laws on the books in other states. That’s why it’s crucial to find a lawyer who can represent your case and help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our Philadelphia wrongful death attorneys at Gibbons & Crichton, Personal Injury and Accident Lawyers, where you can speak with one of our team members about the details of your case.

Loss of Consortium Claims in Pennsylvania

If your spouse becomes severely injured, it’s a situation that can become life-changing for you in an instant. Pennsylvania has a loss of consortium law that allows the surviving spouse to submit a claim for compensation for their losses.

Here are some examples of the aspects of your relationship you can include in a claim:

  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of comfort
  • Loss of society
  • Loss of guidance and support
  • Loss of sexual relations
  • Loss of affection and love
  • Loss of domestic services

These examples include every aspect your spouse may have brought to the relationship that they can no longer provide. For example, they may no longer be able to help with family duties or services around the home, leaving that responsibility solely up to you. In the instance of a death, a surviving spouse may experience a loss of companionship and emotional support.

To prove loss of consortium claim in Pennsylvania, you may have to provide personal details — some of them intimate — of you and your spouse’s relationship. This could include sharing personal details about services they no longer provide, and the loss you have experienced emotionally and physically. It is necessary to divulge these details in a loss of consortium claim since you have to prove what you got from the relationship before arguing that you lost these after the accident.

How is Loss of Consortium Calculated?

Calculating the value of the damages when claiming loss of consortium is quite tricky. It’s best to hire a personal injury attorney with experience in this area and a better understanding of these laws. You also need to understand that loss of consortium is a type of non-economic damage, so calculating the value of damages requires you to put a price on your pain and suffering — something that’s difficult to do alone.

Pennsylvania law does not dictate a formula or guideline for this process, but it does take into account a few factors. Here are some examples of things you should calculate when filing a claim for a loss of consortium:

  • The strength of the marriage before the accident or injury occurred
  • The age and life expectancy of both spouses
  • The details of the couple’s intimate relationship
  • The way you divided household chores and family responsibilities

When figuring out what your loss of consortium claim is worth, there’s not a catch-all answer for every situation. It comes down to you and your spouse’s relationship before the accident and how that relationship is now altered. The details that you provide in your claim have to prove unintentional or intentional negligence from the involved party and what you are now deprived of from your spouse. For your loss of consortium claim to qualify, the two of you have to be on good terms.

You also need to understand that loss of consortium claims are derivative claims. This means that the value of the uninsured spouse’s claim will be included under the policy limits of the injured spouse. This can impact individual claims differently depending on whether liability is clear, and the policy limits provided by the insurance company’s coverage.

Preparing for a Loss of Consortium Claim

To get a loss of consortium settlement, you may need to provide highly personal details about your intimate relationship. This can get uncomfortable. These intimate matters will be cross-examined at a court trial if your case reaches the litigation stage. You may have to answer invasive questions and provide in-depth details to prove the extent of the damages you have suffered.

These are aspects that your attorney will advise you on so that you are better prepared when it is time to go to court.

Statute of Limitations for a Loss of Consortium Claim in Pennsylvania

Like most tort claims you can file in Pennsylvania, there is a statute of limitations regarding the timeframe that you have to initiate a lawsuit. The statute of limitation for personal injury claims in Pennsylvania is usually two years. This applies to loss of companionship and consortium claims as a result of car accidents, defective products, and other cases commonly brought under negligence law.

It is also important to understand that a large amount of strong evidence is necessary to prove non-economic damages. To say that an insurance company will be skeptical about a loss of consortium claim is an understatement. You’ll need an attorney who not only understands your struggle, but the battle it may take to convince the insurance company, or a jury, that these emotional losses deserve real, tangible compensation.

Contact an Experienced Attorney for Your Loss of Consortium Claim

When a spouse becomes injured or dies due to negligence or malice, it’s devastating and overwhelming to go through. It can impact your entire family and the dynamic of your relationship with your loved one. If you’re considering filing a loss of consortium claim against a defendant, let an attorney prepare your case and gather evidence to support the life-altering effect an accident had. Contact us online today at Gibbons & Crichton, Personal Injury and Accident Lawyers to schedule a free case evaluation, or call us at 215-274-0173.

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