One type of derivative claim available to spouses of accident victims in personal injury cases is the claim for loss of consortium. A claim for loss of consortium is for the loss by the claiming spouse of the companionship and fellowship of husband and wife and the right of each to the company, cooperation and aid of the other in every conjugal relation. Consortium means much more than mere sexual relation and consists, also, of that affection, solace, comfort, companionship, conjugal life, fellowship, society and assistance so necessary to a successful marriage.
Usually, claims for loss of consortium are not worth very much. However, it is error for a jury to not award damages when there is evidence presented regarding the adverse effect that one spouse’s injuries have on the parties’ marital life. Peterson v. Sun State Int’l Trucks LLC, 56 So.3d 840 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011). In the Peterson case, the jury awarded damages to Mrs. Peterson for injuries, but did not award any damages to Mr. Peterson for his loss of consortium claim, even though unrebutted testimony was presented regarding the change in their marriage after the accident.