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Loss of consortium: Your spouse's injuries can hurt you, too

Imagine your spouse suffered a debilitating injury after getting into a serious car accident. She's now unable to walk, and she'll be paralyzed for the rest of her life. In addition to the great compassion you feel for what she has to go through, you also need to think about yourself.

It's not at all selfish to consider the way your spouse's disability will also hurt you. New Jersey civil law courts will recognize that you have also been injured indirectly as a result of your spouse's injuries. Courts refer to this kind of injury generally as a "loss of consortium."

Filing a claim for loss of consortium damages

When a spouse files a loss of consortium claim, he or she will usually file the claim incorporated with the spouse's personal injury claim. As such, both spouse's names will be listed on the lawsuit that pertains to the injured spouse's damages.

To prove loss of consortium, you will need to explain the nature of your and your spouse's relationship and how her injuries have had an injurious effect. Here are some important facts that the court will consider in this regard:

-- Was your marriage loving and stable? Was it likely to endure well into the future?-- Did you live together with your spouse and share a bedroom?

-- How much companionship and care did your spouse give you? How much time did you spend with her?

-- How much longer were you and your spouse expected to live?

These facts will help determine the nature of your relationship. Next, you'll need to establish the types of spousal benefits and services that you received. For example, perhaps your spouse managed all the household tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, caring for the children, picking up the kids from school and driving them to doctors' appointments. One can assign these tasks a monetary value in an effort to recoup financial damages relating to the loss of the services.

There are also losses of affection, which are more abstract in nature -- like loss of companionship, loss of sexual relationship and more. The court may try to compensate you financially for these losses as well.

Don't forget: Your spouse is not the only one who is suffering

Your spouse may have suffered a devastating injury in her car accident. While you're working to help and assist her, however, it's important to remember your needs and the losses and damages that you have suffered, too.

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