Many times, in tragic accidents, the folks behind the scenes are forgotten about. Permanent injuries go beyond the physical and often upset the mind, causing injury to it as well. Consortium claims fill the gap and involve loss of love, affection, sexual relations, etc. and can also include household duties and chores, depending on each couple’s situation.
In most actions, the plaintiff is the spouse of the injured person. The key to a loss of consortium claim is that it is significantly related and attached to the primary injury. For instance, a stronger loss of consortium claim might involve a situation where one is sadly rendered quadriplegic in an accident due to the fault of another. If they are not able to perform their marital services then the other spouse would have a valid claim against the tortfeasor and could attach a loss of consortium claim. These claims, if valid, are now recognized in a majority of states.
North Carolina requires that the primary injury be something of substance. As described above, to be a valid loss of consortium claim, the initial claim must be valid first. In evaluating these claims, under North Carolina law, the Statute of Limitations to a consortium claim is attached to the Statute of Limitations of the primary injury. So say you have three years to file a medical malpractice claim. Because of the malpractice, your spouse can no longer contribute to the household chores or those duties “incident” to the marriage. The plaintiff here for a consortium claim would also have three years to file the claim. The exception to this rule is that the claims must be filed together in order to properly put the defendant on notice.
What’s recoverable in a loss of consortium is those previously mentioned losses of love and relations but also economic damages. An example would be in a household where there is only one breadwinner and the stay at home spouse is injured. Who will take of the kids? Who will take care of the household chores? Economic losses can be measured by the replacement costs of a maid or nanny. However, companionship and sexual relations do not fit as neatly into such calculations. They are more appropriately measured by a jury of our peers and in more cases than not, correctly measured.
For further questions or if you have suffered a loss due to a recent injury to your spouse please call Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton, P.C. at (866) 735-1102.