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When should I file a loss of consortium claim?

If your spouse died as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be considering filing a loss of consortium claim in California. Having the right information is crucial in this case, as these types of claims can be highly confusing to those lacking the pertinent legal knowledge.

Loss of consortium refers to damages sought based on the wrongful death of a family member, according to the American Bar Association. While in some courts immediate family is permitted to file such a claim, in most cases it is filed on behalf of a widow/widower who has lost a spouse. Loss of consortium claims can also be filed as a result of a significant and debilitating injury, although this is less common.

There are a few important things to consider before filing a loss of consortium claim. In the event your spouse died because of an auto accident, you’ll need to verify that your insurance policy allows for a separate claim (in some instances, an auto liability policy will include damages for loss of consortium). The same can be said for deaths related to workplace injuries, as many workers’ compensation policies bundle these damages into the settlement as a whole.

There are also drawbacks to initiating a loss of consortium claim. For instance, it’s common for sensitive details involving a couple to be presented to the court to show the damage caused. Some spouses may be reluctant to undergo such rigorous questioning about their private life, and a claim can be harmed as a result. Additionally, you will also need to disclose whether you and your spouse were seeking counseling, or if there had been a history of abuse or neglect. These details will all factor into the jury’s decision, so it’s important you are fully prepared. 

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