When someone is injured in a car accident, their spouse’s life also changes. Even though the spouse is not injured, they might be taking time off work to care of the victim or drive them to and from doctor’s appointments. You are also picking up the slack around the house. If your spouse always did the grocery shopping and laundry, those chores may be falling on you now. Your spouse may also be more irritable than normal due to pain. A vacation might have had to be cancelled or an anniversary ruined.
A Spouse Can Recover for Loss of Consortium.
A loss of consortium cause of action allows for a spouse to recover for these changes and losses. Effective June 25, 1969, loss of consortium received the statutory approbation of the South Carolina General Assembly. Pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 15-75-20 (1977), “[a]ny person may maintain an action for damages arising from an intentional or tortious violation of the right to the companionship, aid, society and services of his or her spouse. Provided, that such action shall not include any damages recovered prior thereto by the injured spouse.” One spouse’s cause of action for medical expenses and loss of consortium resulting from negligent injuries to the other spouse is a different and distinct cause of action from one maintained by the injured spouse. Graham v. Whitaker, 282 S.C. 393, 321 S.E.2d 40 (1984). Judgment in favor of the defendant in one action is not a bar to the other action. Id. See also Priester v. Southern Ry. Co., 151 S.C. 433, 149 S.E. 226 (1929)(directed verdict against wife, because of her contributory negligence in federal action, did not bar husband’s cause of action for loss of consortium in state court; the causes of action in the two cases are entirely different and distinct, and judgment in favor of defendants in an action on one is not a bar to an action on the other). These damages come under the same per person limit in the applicable automobile insurance policy.
Perhaps the most important aspect of consortium is the comfort, companionship, and affection of the other spouse.
We have had many cases where the couple must now have separate sleeping arrangements because the injured spouse cannot sleep in a bed or frequently gets up at night. We see frequently where the couple can no longer enjoy a shared hobby due to the injury such as camping, motorcycle riding or gardening. Most frequently we see that the couple enjoys their time together less because of the injury. Couples that have been together 40 years may now be facing more strain in their relationship than they ever have before due to pain and irritability.
Often childcare must be reallocated after an accident. The injured spouse may not be able to bath or dress the children, run car pool or make dinner. This increased work load can be compensated for through the loss of consortium claim.
Make sure when your spouse is injured you keep track of your loss time from work, increased workload at home and any changes in your relationship. An attorney can make sure that you are compensated for these very real losses.
The law office of Venus Poe, PA has experience in getting the most money for your automobile accident. Call us today for a free consultation