By: Patrick Finley, Esq.
A Loss of Consortium Claim is a legal claim which arises out of a set of facts where one spouse is seriously injured or killed by a third party. Serious Injury is specifically defined by the NY State Legislature. The injury or death can be the result of either a negligent or intentional act of an independent third party. Meaning one spouse could not have cause the injury to the other. The surviving spouse could then be entitled to monetary losses suffered from his or her inability to enjoy the same love, affection, attention, and companionship that he or she enjoyed prior to the incident.
The typical Loss of Consortium claim will compensate the claimant spouse for the loss or deprivation of: emotional support, sexual relations, services (helping out around the house, getting gas, painting the bedroom), love, comfort, and the typical companionship that comes from a marriage.
Loss of Consortium damages are viewed as “non economic damages.” This means that they are not a precise monetary loss and clearly these losses do not posses an exact objective cash value. How can you put a price on love? It is generally up to the judge or jury to decide the award and that decision is left within their discretion.
New York takes the view that consortium represents the spouse’s interest in the continuation of the marital relationship (but for this incident the marriage would not have ended or have been seriously limited). NY does not allow a loss of consortium recovery if the incident took place prior to the marriage, therefore unmarried couples would not be allowed to recover under a similar set of facts as a married couples.