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Loss of Consortium FAQ

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Loss of consortium is a claim that only the spouse of an injured person can pursue in Georgia. 

 

It is derivative of the physically injured spouse's personal injury claim. 

 

Also known as the claim for “loss of services” it is defined as any loss suffered for all matters of value arising from a marriage relationship.

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1)  What is loss of consortium?

 

Loss of consortiums is an umbrella term used to describe any loss of value to a marriage relationship, which can include:

 

  • Loss of intimacy & affection;

  • Loss of companionship;

  • Loss of household services; and

  • Loss of child services;

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2)  What is included in a loss of consortium claim?

 

In Georgia, only a lawful spouse can pursue a claim for loss of consortium. 

 

So, children or other household dependents cannot pursue a claim for loss of consortium.

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3)  Who can pursue a claim for loss of consortium in Georgia?

 

If the spouse is pursuing loss of consortium claims, they are required to sit through a deposition. 

 

And, the defense attorney is allowed to ask relevant questions regarding the loss of consortium claim.

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4)  Does a spouse have to sit for a deposition?

 

Maybe.  These records may be relevant to proving the strength and value of your loss of consortium claim.  

 

And, it depends on how aggressive the defense attorney wants to be.  At the least, you would need to disclose you've needed marital counseling in the past.

 

For instance, if you and your spouse were living apart at the time of the injury due to marital differences, but still legally married, your loss of consortium claim may not be very strong, and marital counseling records may be relevant for that.

 

Similarly, if you had already experienced significant marital complications, marital counseling records can also be relevant to the strength and value of your loss of consortium claim – even if you were not living apart.  In that case, a defense attorney would be in a strong position to argue that he should have access to any marital counseling records.

 

But, if you’re marital counseling was done to help strengthen your marriage after a traumatic experience, such as the unexpected loss of a child, these records would be less relevant and a plaintiff’s attorney could argue to keep them confidential.  Or, if the counseling took place in the remote past, then there would be additional arguments to keep them confidential.

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5)  Do I have to disclose marital counseling records?

 

You only have to answer questions about your level of intimacy if you are claiming a loss of affection and intimacy as part of your loss of consortium. 

 

Even then, defense attorneys are usually pretty respectful and do not dive in to unneeded details.

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6)  Do I have to disclose intimate details about our sex life?

 

If an injured party’s loss of household forces you to hire a maid or similar help, those costs can be recouped as a part of your claim for loss of consortium. 

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7)  Can I claim costs for having to hire a maid to make up for household services lost?

 
 

Loss of relationship does not need to be purely intimate. 

 

There are many facets of a successful marital relationship, and evidence towards these can prove loss of relationship, such as:

  • Problems communicating;

  • Increased irritability/depression of the injured spouse;

  • Stress of having to care for an injured spouse;

  • And others

Loss of relationship is usually proven through sworn testimony of your experiences in conjunction with the injured spouse's medical records.  If applicable, counseling records can also document the changes to the marital relationship.

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8)  How do you prove a loss of relationship?

 

No direct evidence is required. 

 

Instead the only parameter required in Georgia is that be reasonably valued, as determined by the enlightened conscious of the jury.

 

As a practical matter, loss of consortium is usually calculated at a derivative – or fraction – amount of the injured spouse’s total recovery.  Factors relevant to that calculation include:

 

  • Total amount awarded to the injured spouse;

  • Nature and severity of the injured spouse’s physical and mental injuries;

  • Joint life expectancy and ages of the spouses;

  • Strength of the marriage relationship prior to the injury;

  • Day-in-the-life videos (for catastrophic injury victims);

  • Costs for services to replace lost household services (i.e. maids);

  • Number of children in the family (if any); and

  • Other specific evidence of circumstances.

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9)  How do you calculate loss of consortium?

 

In Georgia, you have four years to pursue a claim for loss of consortium from the date that the spouse was injured. 

 

This is a general parameter that may have certain exceptions or qualify for tolling.

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10)  How long do I have to pursue a loss of consortium claim in Georgia?

 

While loss of consortium claims are derivative of the injured spouse’s personal injury claim,

 

Georgia allows the claims to be pursued independently.  Meaning, you can pursue your loss of consortium claim even if your spouse chooses not to pursue their personal injury claim.

 

It’s not usually wise to pursue the claims independently.  But technically, spouses can pursue their loss of consortium claims independently.

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11)  Can I pursue a loss of consortium claim, even if my injured spouse does not pursue their personal injury claim?

 

Punitive damages are available for loss of consortium claims in Georgia. 

 

But, the underlying facts must meet the high burden to allow for a punitive damage claim to go to trial.

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12)  Can I recover for punitive damages for loss of consortium?

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