What Is Loss of Consortium In a Personal Injury Case?

When a personal injury case includes a "loss of consortium" claim, some very personal questions may be raised.

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law

When a personal injury claimant's injuries affect their emotional and intimate relationship with loved ones, a "loss of consortium" claim might be possible. But as with every other component of what you need to prove in a personal injury case, the basis for this kind of claim will come under scrutiny. In this article, we'll explain:

  • what "loss of consortium" is, and how compensation for this kind of loss might be sought in a personal injury case
  • the kinds of information you can expect will be sought (and questions likely to be asked) if a loss of consortium claim ends up being part of your injury-related insurance claim or lawsuit, and
  • how an attorney's help can be crucial if you're making a loss of consortium claim.

What Is "Loss of Consortium" In a Personal Injury Case?

Basically, "loss of consortium" refers to the negative effects that injuries and related harm have had on the injured person's relationship with their loved ones:

  • In some states and in some contexts, "loss of consortium" refers to the inability to have a normal sexual relationship with a spouse or partner as a result of an injury.
  • In other states, "loss of consortium" is a little broader and refers to the loss of emotional support and other intimacies between family members.

In a personal injury case, "loss of consortium" may be a separate claim brought by a family member, or it may be a component of the compensation (money "damages") that are being sought by the injured person themselves.

However loss of consortium is defined, once it's claimed, it usually needs to be established through some fairly personal information and details, either coming through:

  • evidence produced by the claimant (or the affected partner/family member)
  • information sought by the opposing side (the defendant in the lawsuit, and their lawyer) through "discovery" tools like interrogatories and depositions, and
  • in the rare event that a personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, testimony in court.

The scope of the information being sought will depend on the specifics of the loss of consortium claim:

  • Does it pertain to the relationship between two spouses or partners?
  • Does it encompass the relationship between a parent and a child?

Let's look at the kinds of ground you can expect questions to cover in both types of loss of consortium claims.

Loss of Consortium Between Spouses/Partners

Your Marriage/Relationship and Marital/Relationship History. You'll be asked to provide details on your own marital/relationship history, and that of your spouse/partner (including reasons for any divorces in the past).

As for your current marriage/relationship, you'll be asked about your children, whether you've been separated, and other details.

Your Relationship with Your Spouse/Partner. Here's where the questions will get personal (maybe surprisingly so). You'll be asked how much time you and your spouse/partner spent together before and after the injury, including the kinds of activities you participated in, and the frequency of sexual relations and other intimate contact.

You'll also be asked whether you've participated in counseling or therapy sessions (together or separately) and whether you (or your spouse/partner) have ever seen a health care or mental health professional for issues related to sexual dysfunction.

You can also expect questions as to whether you or your spouse/partner have ever been named in any criminal or civil allegations of abuse (either during or prior to your marriage/relationship).

Remember, most of this information is fair game for the defendant to request. You're putting the subject matter "in play" by asking the defendant to compensate you and your spouse/partner for losses associated with some very intimate aspects of your relationship.

Loss of Consortium Between Parent and Child

When the injury affects a parent's ability to provide care and support for a child, the kind of information sought might cover:

  • the type and frequency of care that the injured person provided prior to the injury, and the type of frequency of care that is possible post-injury
  • detailed information on how the injuries and their effects have made it impossible for the parent and child to develop or continue a normal, loving, supportive relationship, and
  • the impact that the injuries have had on the parent's ability to provide child care assistance and support, and to participate in household and family-related activities.

Getting Help With a Loss of Consortium Claim

Having an experienced lawyer on your side can be crucial to getting the best result for any kind of personal injury claim. And when loss of consortium is part of your case, your lawyer will work with you to put together the best narrative, framing you (and your loved ones') experience in the most honest and effective way.

Your lawyer can also be your best ally at the deposition phase of your case. While you'll probably need to answer most deposition questions (including those related to a loss of consortium claim), your attorney will do everything possible to prepare you for the process, and will be sitting right next to you throughout. They'll know what's fair game and what's not, and will speak up and advise you, on and off the record.

Learn more about when you need a lawyer for a personal injury claim, and get tips on finding the right injury lawyer.

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