In Florida, what is a claim for loss of consortium?
A spouse has a cause of action for loss of consortium when the other spouse suffers personal injury caused by the negligence of another. Consortium generally refers to the services, comfort, society and attentions of a spouse. This includes more than just the marital sexual relationship, but also the companionship and fellowship of a husband and wife to each other. The burden of proof is on the claiming spouse and may be claimed for both past and future losses. Examples include: a spouse taking on more housework or childcare responsibilities, which the injured spouse can no longer perform; a spouse taking time off from work to stay home and care for the physical needs of the injured spouse; physical activities that the couple used to enjoy but can no longer enjoy together because of the injuries such as dancing, roller skating, traveling, going to movies in a theater; or certainly, the spouse's injuries causing a negative impact on the frequency or duration of intimacy.
In Florida, how much is my spouse's loss of consortium claim worth?
The value of a loss of consortium claim is determined as a matter of fact by the jury. Historically, Florida juries do not make large awards for loss of consortium claims. One theory is that jurors believe that the marriage vow of "for better or for worse, through sickness and in health" plays in, and taking care of an injured spouse is just part of being married. However, by fully developing and presenting trial evidence of the thriving marital relationship prior to the injury (through deposition testimony, before and after witnesses, photographs and videos, and expert testimony, etc.) and then revealing evidence of a substantial change for the worse after the accident, an award of damages for loss of consortium may be substantial.
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