This is for lawyers looking to properly plead a loss of consortium count in a personal injury lawsuit.
Loss Consortium – Should You Bring a Claim?
A huge word of caution. In the wrong case, a loss of consortium claim can utterly destroy a personal injury case. Why? Because often your best pain and suffering witness is the victim’s spouse. You can compromise that witness by bringing a claim on their behalf.
Not for nothing, you are also setting up a possible conflict of interest issue by representing both parties. Keep in mind you are not increasing the pain and suffering damages cap — at least in Maryland — by adding a loss of consortium count. So look before you leap into bringing a loss of consortium claim.
When Loss Consortium Claims Are Wise
That said, there are types went a loss of consortium claim is appropriate. If you have such a claim, this language in your complaint will do the trick in Maryland and most states. You cannot hold back a loss of consortium claim. Under Maryland law, and in most states, loss of consortium may only be brought in a joint action for injury to the marital relationship tried at the same time as the claim of the injured spouse.
Loss Consortium Complaint Language
COUNT III – LOSS OF CONSORTIUM
The Plaintiffs incorporate by reference all the above paragraphs as though fully set forth herein.
- At the time of the accident complained of in the Plaintiffs’ Complaint, the Plaintiffs were married. Plaintiffs continue to be married.
- That as a result of the wrongful and negligent acts of the Defendants, and each of them, the Plaintiffs were caused to suffer, and will continue to suffer in the future, loss of consortium, loss of society, affection, assistance, and conjugal fellowship, all to the detriment of their marital relationship.
- That all the injuries and damages were caused solely and proximately by the negligence of the Defendants.
WHEREFORE, the Plaintiffs jointly as husband and wife, demand judgment against the Defendants, jointly and severally, in the amount of NINE HUNDRED AND FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($905,000) [note: this is the damage cap in 2022 but this language in now-antiquated by the new rule that does not require asking for a specific amount in the ad damnum clause], plus costs, pre-judgment interest, post-judgment interest, and any other costs this court deems appropriate.
What Is Loss Consortium?
A loss of consortium claim seeks compensation for the loss of companionship caused by the negligence. We often think of the loss of consortium of the in the context of loss or impairment of sexual benefits from a spouse. But most courts have found that loss of consortium also includes deprivation of companionship, love, affection, society, comfort, solace, support, and, importantly, services.
So loss of consortium includes two contrasting types of damages: tangible damages of loss of support and services and intangible damages of the pain and suffering the spouse endures because of the injury to the spouse.
Loss of consortium is not always limited to spouses.
A loss of consortium claim does not“arise” in most states until the marriage is negatively impacted by the victim’s personal injury. In Oaks v. Connors, the Maryland Court of Appeals said that a “claim for loss of consortium arises from the loss of society, affection, assistance, and conjugal fellowship suffered by the marital unit as a result of the physical injury to one spouse through the tortious conduct of a third party.”
Loss of consortium is not an available claim in a worker’s compensation claim in Maryland. Speaking of workers’ compensation, loss of consortium claim awarded to a spouse is not subject to the workers’ compensation lien.
How to Calculate Loss of Consortium Damages
The injury recoverable in a loss of consortium claim is that suffered by the marital unit. So the jury instruction is that loss of consortium means “damage to the marital relationship” and the jury should consider the impact the victim’s injury had on the marital relationship, taking into account any loss of society, affection, assistance and conjugal relations.
So it is a pain and suffering damages question which makes loss of consortium damages difficult to calculate.
Loss of Consortium Versus Loss of Support
Loss of support is an element of loss of consortium as we discuss above.
- 2022, Michigan: $2,475,000 Verdict ($600,000 in Loss of Consortium): A man underwent a cervical revision. He suffered vocal cord paralysis and speaking and breathing difficulties. The man eventually underwent intubation. He also underwent multiple surgeries to address post-surgical injuries. The man continued to experience speaking and breathing difficulties. He also became increasingly lethargic. The man and his wife alleged negligence against the hospital. They claimed its surgeon negligently performed the revision procedure. The man received $1,875,000, while his wife received $600,000 in loss of consortium.
- 2022, Louisiana: $420,000 Verdict ($75,000 in Loss of Consortium): A man with ongoing heart disease suffered shortness of breath. He went to the ER. The man was assessed as a fall risk. However, the hospital staff failed to implement fall prevention protocols. Forty-eight hours later, the man fell while walking to the bathroom. He appeared to have sustained a head bump, which was later revealed to be a skull fracture. The man was eventually transferred to another hospital later that evening. He died several days later. The cause of death was a brain hemorrhage. The man’s son alleged malpractice against the hospital. He claimed its staff failed to prevent his father’s falls and timely address his injuries. The jury awarded $420,000, which included $75,000 in the son’s loss of consortium claim.
- 2021, Louisiana: $32,239 Verdict ($5,000 in Loss of Consortium): A woman shopped at Lowe’s. She tripped and fell on a protruding pallet. The woman suffered a right ankle fracture, torn ligaments, and facial, hand, arm, and leg injuries. She and her husband alleged negligence against Lowe’s. They claimed its employees created dangerous conditions and failed to maintain safe premises. The husband claimed loss of consortium. A court awarded the woman $27,239 and her husband $5,000.
- 2021, Tennessee: $169,411 Verdict ($10,000 in Loss of Consortium): A woman was rear-ended. She suffered right buttock trauma. The
woman’s buttock implant also became infected. She and her husband alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. They claimed he failed to maintain an appropriate lookout and safely operate the vehicle. The husband made a loss of consortium claim. A jury awarded the woman $159,411 and her husband $10,000.
- 2021, Connecticut: $37,621,027 Verdict ($4,500,000 in Loss of Consortium): A 30-something married couple conceived their twins via therapeutic donor insemination at a fertility clinic. The donor was congenital cytomegalovirus positive. One of the twins died in utero. The other twin developed autism and cognitive, hearing, and motor difficulties. The couple claimed that the fertility clinic staff negligently inseminated the woman with CMV-positive sperm and failed to inform them of the CMV infection risks. They also claimed the treatment providers failed to timely detect a CMV infection. The jury verdict totaled $37,621,027, $4,500,000 of which comprised loss of consortium.
- 2021, Washington: $343,192 Verdict ($5,000 in Loss of Consortium): A 70-something woman with Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s disease was struck while walking to her mailbox. She suffered pelvic and sacral fractures and a lacerated scalp. The woman and her husband alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. They claimed he failed to watch the road and look out for pedestrians. A jury awarded the woman $338,192 and her husband $5,000 in loss of consortium.
- Phipps v. General Motors Corp. 278 Md. 337, 354 (1976) (An claim for loss of consortium is “an action for injury to both spouses and not… an action for damages to a legal entity separate and apart from the persons who compromise that ‘entity’….”).
- Exxon Corp. v. Schoene, 67 Md. App. 412, 423 (1986) (loss of consortium includes the loss of society, affection, assistance, and conjugal fellowship” and characterizing loss of consortium damages as resulting from the “change of the [spouse’s] personality or ability to engage in all the intangible associations” that come with marriage).
- Deems v. Western Maryland Railway, 247 Md. 95, 115, 231 A.2d 514, 525 (1967) (under Maryland law, loss of consortium “claims can only be “asserted in a joint action for injury to the marital relationship . .. tried at the same time as the individual action of the physically injured spouse.”
- Loss of Consortium Claims in Maryland: Here were break down all of the relevant law related to loss of consortium claims in Maryland.
- Maryland Personal Injury Attorney Help Center: Get samples and forms of everything you need to prosecute a personal injury accident, malpractice, or product or premises liability claim