When you’re hurt in an injury accident, your spouse or partner often suffers right along with you. For the families of personal injury accident victims, an injury to a loved one can change life in an instant. If you’re the spouse or domestic partner of an injury victim, you may have the right to bring your own claim for compensation.
Along with your spouse’s claim for compensation, you may deserve your own compensation for damage to your marriage relationship. Your personal injury attorney can help you understand the nature of these types of claims and help you build your case. The name for a case based on injury to a marriage relationship because of an injury accident is called loss of consortium.
What Is Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium is a legal action that a spouse may bring if their marriage is interrupted by a personal injury accident. A loss of consortium claim compensates the spouse for the disruption or decline of their marriage because of a personal injury action. It is a legal action that a spouse can take along with an injury action brought by the injured victim.
Loss of Consortium in a Nevada Personal Injury Claim
Allowing a spouse to recover for loss of consortium is a way to compensate the spouse for the ways that the personal injury changes their marriage. For example, if the spouse no longer enjoys the companionship of the injured husband or wife on evening walks, that’s an example of loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is the loss of companionship, comfort, sexual relations or the ability to bear children. It’s any kind of emotional or relationship loss that occurs because of the accident.
What Are the Elements of a Nevada Loss of Consortium Claim?
To win a loss of consortium claim in Nevada, the victim must prove the following:
- There is a valid and lawful marriage or domestic partnership. The marriage or partnership must exist at the time of the injury.
- The spouse suffers a tortious injury. The spouse must have their own valid personal injury claim.
- There is a loss of consortium. The relationship between the spouse changes or the spouse otherwise suffers a loss of marital companionship because of the injuries.
- There’s a connection between the spouse’s injuries and the loss of consortium. You must show the link between the injury and the changes in the marriage relationship.
What Can I Claim for Loss of Consortium?
When you’re the victim of a loss of consortium claim, your claim is for non-economic damages. If you have medical bills or lost career opportunities because of the injury, they are not included in the claim for compensation. The spouse’s claim for compensation is for pain and suffering only.
The purpose of limiting the claim to pain and suffering is to prevent double recovery by the victim and their spouse. The injured spouse can already recover for economic damages. The purpose of a loss of consortium claim is to include the spouse in a claim for pain and suffering because of the spouse’s own suffering as a result of the injury.
A Loss of Consortium Claim Depends on the Success of the Spouse’s Claim
In Nevada, the spouse’s loss of consortium claim is derivative of the injured victim’s claim. Derivative just means that the loss of consortium case goes along with the injured spouse’s claim. The husband or wife must bring their claim along with the injured party’s claim. If the injured victim doesn’t meet their burden of proof for recovery, the spouse doesn’t recover anything for the loss of consortium case, either. In the Nevada Supreme Court case Gunlock v New Frontier Hotel, the court dismissed a loss of consortium claim because there was no valid claim by an injured victim.
When an attorney represents a client in a loss of consortium case, they must strike a balance between presenting the underlying personal injury action and presenting the loss of consortium case. Winning a loss of consortium case means presenting the personal injury action first but also showing the elements of loss of consortium. It’s important to remember that the personal injury action is the most important. Your attorney can help you strike the right balance between presenting the elements of the loss of consortium claim without allowing it to become a distraction from the main case and most significant damages.
A loss of consortium claim may arise from any of the following types of personal injury claims:
- Gross negligence
- Intentional offenses
- Products liability
- Premises liability
- Strict liability
Cases like car accidents, slip and falls, dangerous property cases and all other types of personal injury accident cases qualify for loss of consortium if there’s an injury to the victim’s marriage or domestic partnership.
It’s also important to remember that the spouse’s claim is derivative when you’re in pre-trial settlement negotiations. If the injured victim signs a settlement that releases their claim, that settlement applies to the spouse’s loss of consortium claim as well. The injured victim and their spouse should fully understand that a settlement of the victim’s case fully resolves the case including the loss of consortium claim.
A Domestic Partner Counts as a Spouse
Under Nevada law, a spouse or an unmarried domestic partner may bring a loss of consortium claim. Nevada law 122A.200 extends all the same rights to domestic partners that spouses have. If you are the spouse or partner of the injured victim, the law protects your right to bring a claim for the disruption in your domestic relationship.
Discovery Process in a Loss of Consortium Claim
Your attorney should carefully explain the process of filing a loss of consortium claim. A claim for loss of consortium involves digging into the details of the marriage relationship both before and after the injury. While your attorney can help you minimize any undue intrusions on your privacy, a loss of consortium claim does involve revealing some personal information about the nature of the marriage relationship.
Talk to Our Personal Injury Attorneys in Las Vegas
If you’re the spouse of a personal injury victim, you may have a valid claim for loss of consortium. There are time limits to assert your claim. Contact our team of Las Vegas injury attorneys to determine what you might recover and how to assert your loss of consortium claim.