Some Injuries Have a Permanent Effects Beyond the Victim’s Physical Ramifications, Also Impacting their Loved Ones
When someone is seriously injured or killed in an accident, the impact is catastrophic. Loss of quality of life, the ability to contribute, and ease of physical and emotional experience take a massive toll not only on the victim but their family as well. In New Jersey, the legal spouse of a victim injured or killed due to another party’s negligence is entitled to seek financial damages for loss of companionship, services, and marital intimacy. This is known as loss of consortium, and it is a non-economic impact of an injury. Read on to learn more about how the loss of consortium and companionship is defined under New Jersey law, how it’s proven, and how you can recover financial damages if your spouse has been seriously injured or killed in an accident in New Jersey.
Defining Loss of Consortium or Companionship in New Jersey
According to New Jersey law, loss of consortium is a claim that the legal spouse of a victim may make against the defendant in a serious personal injury or wrongful death case. Technically, ‘loss of consortium’ refers to loss of sexual intimacy or capacity due to an injury. In the case of New Jersey law, loss of consortium and companionship is the “loss of services, society, and consortium” that a spouse generally offers. Loss of consortium includes loss of companionship, loss of the ability to provide support in the relationship both physically and financially, and loss of sexual relations.
The victim in a personal injury case may also seek damages for loss of consortium, as is the case for their legal spouse. If, for example, a victim has become paralyzed in an automobile accident caused by a negligent or reckless driver, and as a result of the paralysis, they have lost sexual function, both the victim and their legal spouse may file a loss of consortium claim.
Elements Included in Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium and companionship includes “loss of services, society, and consortium.” If an injured spouse is not able to provide financially for the family, help clean and maintain the house and property, take care of the children, and provide other services — or if their untimely death has removed this capacity — and if the victim’s injury or death has impacted their ability to connect meaningfully with their spouse, through regular conversations and shared routines, quality time, and sexual intimacy, the spouse may seek to recovery damages for these non-economic impacts.
Loss of Consortium: A Type of Non-Economic Damage
Loss of consortium and companionship is a non-economic damage. Non-economic damages are damages that are impossible to quantify, including pain, suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. As such, it is up to the court to determine if and how those damages will be recovered by the victim and their spouse and dependents.
Handling Loss of Consortium Claims in NJ
In New Jersey, the court will take certain questions into consideration when deciding a loss of consortium case:
- How strong was the marriage before the incident, and what type of relationship did the spouses have? What marital responsibilities did each spouse have in running the household, providing for the family, and raising the children?
- How serious is the injury? What will the recovery time be; and as such, how long will it be before the victim can engage in acts of service and sexual intimacy? If the incident caused death, how young was the couple and their children, and what responsibilities were left without a provider to complete them?
Given its subjective judgment regarding these elements, the court will award financial damages to compensate in some way for the loss of consortium due to a serious injury or death. Of course, no amount of money could make up for the loss of a loved one; however, the court does its best to take the longevity and extent of an injury or death’s impact into consideration when rewarding financial compensation.
Requirements to Successfully Prove Loss of Consortium
In order for loss of consortium and companionship to be proven in a spouse’s claim, the plaintiff must prove that they were in a legal marriage with the victim before and at the time of the incident. They must also prove that the victim’s injury or death was the direct cause of the defendant’s negligent or reckless actions. Finally, the plaintiff must prove that, due to their spouse’s injury or death, they have suffered from non-economic and/or economic damages such as loss of society, companionship, sexual relations, familial support, and assistance.
Contact Cohen & Riechelson for Help Pursuing Loss of Consortium Damages
The time after a serious injury or death is emotionally difficult to bear for anyone involved, both the victim and their family. In order to ensure that both the victim and their spouse are financially compensated for their losses, a dedicated personal injury and wrongful death lawyer is a must-have. Loss of consortium compensation can provide a small respite in this difficult time, yet a respite nonetheless.
At Cohen & Riechelson, our lawyers have represented many suffering families of accident victims in Trenton, Hopewell, Windsor, Hightstown, Pennington, Princeton, Hamilton, and towns in Mercer County, Middlesex County, Burlington County, and throughout New Jersey. Our experienced law firm with more than 50 years of practicing personal injury law helps clients recover damages for loss of consortium and other pain and suffering, as well as recover compensation for all costs, economic and non-economic, associated with the injury or death.
We understand the profundity of the impacts on your life, analyze the circumstances of the case, and fight to ensure that you and your family are fairly provided for after a traumatic accident. Reach out to us at (609) 528-2596 for a free consultation today to discuss your loss of consortium claim.