The state of Florida recognizes that a husband and wife have a right to each other’s company, cooperation, and aid in the marital relationship. These rights include sexual relations, as well as affection, solace, comfort, companionship, conjugal life, fellowship, society, and assistance.
When one spouse has suffered an injury as a result of a third party’s negligence, the uninjured spouse can sue for loss of consortium if he or she can present believable evidence about the affect the injury has had on the marital relationship. The damage to the relationship must be substantial, undisputed, and unrebutted. Also, a fighting couple, separated couple, oft-separated couple, or one that never ever did anything around the house to help or never did anything together would not have a great claim.
When a spouse sues for loss of consortium, he or she can receive damages for the duration of the time the spouse was injured or is expected to remain injured. Even if a spouse eventually heals, the uninjured spouse can still receive damages for the time where the spouse was injured, or as long as the relationship is affected if the injuries are permanent.
Loss of consortium is often considered to include damages for the inability of one spouse to engage in sexual relations with the other spouse as a result of the negligence of another. In Florida personal injury cases, loss of consortium is liberally interpreted to include loss of assistance, comfort, and companionship. In other words, we are not just talking about limiting damages to the loss of the physical act of sexual intercourse, but of the loss of companionship and comfort as a result of the injury.
Loss of Consortium: Damages May Be Greater than Originally Anticipated
Consider the case where a husband is injured as a result of car accident. The husband’s shoulder is injured to the extent that he is on prescription medication to ease the pain and can’t sleep. Then, consider that, not only is the sexual relationship affected, but:
- The husband cannot help with household chores,
- The husband cannot cut the grass,
- The husband cannot take the children to school, church, ball practice, judo, or karate,
- The husband cannot cook on the grill like he used to
- Then the loss of consortium claim can have real value.
Proving Loss of Consortium
Proving loss of consortium is no different than proving pain and suffering cases. Unlike medical bill cases and lost wage case, it can be difficult to quantify a value for the loss of consortium. This is especially true when evaluating love and affection.
Still, some aspects can be proven with the appropriate testimony. In the example above, one might consider having a yard service come for a month to establish what it would cost to cut the
grass or get a maid service to come in for a day to establish the cost of what he used to do around the home. Then, take the costs and multiply by the length of time that the spouse is bedridden or unable to do the work due to the negligence of another. The rest of the claim is usually proven with testimony from the uninjured spouse and children or neighbors about the changes to the relationship and household duties after the injury occurred.