When we talk about “damages” in a South Florida personal injury lawsuit, we’re referring to the monetary value of what you have lost as a result of the incident or accident. Some losses obviously have no price tag, but that doesn’t mean those responsible shouldn’t be held accountable for it. You have likely heard of damages for medical expenses, wage losses, pain and suffering and even mental anguish. One type of damage lesser known (but no less important) is specifically for those closest to the person hurt or killed. It’s called loss of consortium.
Loss of consortium, as defined by the Florida Supreme Court in the 1971 case of Gates v. Foley, is filed by the spouse of the person injured as a result of a third party’s wrongful conduct. It’s intended to compensate a surviving spouse for loss of affection, solace, comfort, sexual relationship, fellowship, society, household services and assistance necessary for a successful marriage.
(Minor children and parents of minor children might also have grounds for loss of consortium in some circumstances.)
It’s important to understand that while a claim for loss of consortium is a claim separate and distinct from the primary claim, Florida courts have long held it is nonetheless a derivative one. That means its success is dependent on the injured person’s underlying claim. However, it’s possible that an impaired spouse’s claim could be settled and the deprived spouse’s loss of consortium claim would still proceed to trial. Continue reading