When a beloved family member is injured or killed in an accident, affected family members include spouses, children, or even the deceased’s parents. Whenever a victim’s life is changed beyond repair, it is often extremely challenging for everyone.
Spouses are eligible to recover a specific form of compensation in loss of consortium claims in Florida.
A qualified personal injury lawyer in Pensacola can help with loss of consortium claims due to a non-fatal injury or wrongful death. If you need your questions answered, contact Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers in Pensacola today for more help with your claim.
How Does Florida Law Define Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium is a broad term that addresses things such as companionship, fellowship, cooperation, and the sexual relationship between spouses. This broad definition recognizes the many services and supports that spouses offer to one another, the loss of which represents significant changes in life for the surviving spouse.
Even daily tasks carried out by a spouse, such as assistance with children, pet care, cooking, and cleaning, are examples of loss of consortium under Florida law.
Who May Claim Loss of Consortium?
While a personal injury or wrongful death case may include a spouse’s claim for loss of consortium in Florida, this is not always the case. Typically, victims request this damage type only in cases of catastrophic injuries or wrongful death.
Per Florida Statutes 768.0415, parents or children may also be eligible for loss of consortium awards for cases of severe or permanent injuries. These can include loss of companionship, services, society, and comfort. This most frequently applies when the victim is a minor child who survived the accident but with critical or disabling injuries or when a child’s parent dies due to negligence.
For a surviving spouse to request and receive loss of consortium, the following must be true:
- The victim/plaintiff/spouse must have been married to the deceased at the time of the accident
- A defendant named in the lawsuit must have negligently caused the injuries that led to the person’s death
- The plaintiff can prove that the loss of consortium exists because of the victim’s death
- The loss of consortium is part of an active wrongful death lawsuit
Spouses most frequently request damages under the Loss of Consortium statute in Florida, but they are not the only surviving family members entitled to this benefit.
The funds received from a loss of consortium claim may help you hire someone else to assist with some of these responsibilities or to help with new burdens that arise from the injury or wrongful death.
How Do I Prove Loss of Consortium?
To proceed with your claim, you must be able to show that the defendant was involved in willful or negligent misconduct that caused the accident affecting your loved one. You will need proof of this as well as examples of the losses you allege.
Your lawyer may ask you to take notes on the general companionship, financial assistance, household chore help, minor children caretaking, and emotional support provided by the deceased party.
Your lawyer is crucial in presenting your entire personal injury or wrongful death claim in court. After suffering a severe injury or grieving the loss of a loved one, you don’t need the additional stress of worrying about the legal aspects of your case. A personal injury lawyer with substantial experience in loss of consortium claims will help you with numerous aspects of your case, including:
- Filing paperwork
- Evaluating your case and damage types
- Preparing you for court
- Representing you in court
- Explaining your relief options to you
- Negotiating with any insurance companies
Note that it can be very personal to hear the details of your private life discussed or questioned in court. Since your loss of consortium claim may relate to intimacy and companionship with your spouse, you may be required to answer questions related to those topics in court.
Finding an attorney familiar with the defense’s likely strategies to argue against a loss of consortium claim is vital. Your lawyer should prepare you for any depositions or testimony in court, so you feel confident about what to expect.
How are damages determined in a loss of consortium claim?
Juries consider several factors in awarding loss of consortium in Florida in both personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. These factors include the couple’s living arrangements, the marriage’s stability, the spouse’s life expectancy, and the companionship and care shared between the two parties.
Are there damage caps on non-economic damages in Florida?
Unlike direct medical expenses and lost wages, loss of consortium is non-economic damage. If you lost your loved one and the deceased’s estate opened a wrongful death claim against the responsible party, there are no damage caps on loss of consortium claims.
There is one exception for claims of medical malpractice. The non-economic damage cap for medical malpractice suits in Florida, including those claims for loss of consortium, is $500,000.
What is the time limit for filing a loss of consortium claim?
You must file a Florida loss of consortium claim within two years of the date of the incident for personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits. Filing your lawsuit in a timely manner protects you and any loved ones.
When filing a wrongful death claim for loss of consortium in Florida, only a personal representative for the deceased’s estate can open this suit to file for surviving family member benefits.