Information for Families
The moments after a tragic accident are often a whirlwind of activity. The injured is rushed off to a hospital by ambulance. The family is contacted. There may need to be immediate medical decisions to be made, insurance companies to contact, and arrangements to set up. Everything is up in the air and emotions are often strained. Then, the dust settles and the impact of the accident really begins to sink in. Your family may never be the same again.
If your loved one has been injured in an accident and has suffered a permanent and debilitating injury, you may be able to make a claim for the losses that you have endured and will continue to endure. This is known as a loss of consortium claim.
Contact the Injury Law Center® at (603) 883-4100 to speak with a New Hampshire personal injury attorney. We are here for you.The History of Loss of Consortium Claims in NH
Prior to 1986, a spouse could bring a loss of consortium claim regardless comparative fault, which means that even if their injured spouse was found to be partially at fault the other spouse could still bring a claim for loss of consortium. This was revised with the Tort Reform Act of 1986, which amended RSA 507:8-a to state that any time a claimant or claimant’s spouse is in any way at fault, the damages that can be recovered are subject to reduction based on their percentage of fault.
This means that a spouse's recovery of damages for loss of consortium is to be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the injured spouse or claimant.What Kinds of Loss of Consortium Claims can be Brought?
A spouse has a right to a loss of consortium claim to recover for the loss of:
- Services of his/her spouse
"Society" includes love, companionship, comfort, affection, solace, or moral support. "Sex" includes the enjoyment of sexual relations or the ability to have children. "Services" include physical assistance in the operation and maintenance of the home.
If a parent is injured by the negligence of another, a child cannot bring a claim for loss of consortium. A child can only bring such a claim in cases of wrongful death.What if My Child has Been Injured?
If a child is injured by the negligence of another, the parent can make a claim for pecuniary damages including loss of services and expenses caused by the injured child. The right to recover for the nursing and care of a child and for medicines and medical expenses is also recognized by the court. This recovery stems from the parent's obligation to support and educate the child and is contingent upon the parent actually retaining custody and support of the child. A parent, however, is not able to bring a claim for the loss of society of an injured child. The courts opined that the loss of a child's society is an intangible non-monetary loss which can never be properly compensated with a monetary award. In addition, New Hampshire law does not permit parents to make a claim to recover earnings they have lost due to having to care for a child who becomes disabled for any time period after the child has reached the age of majority.
If you have questions as to whether or not you are able to bring a claim for loss of consortium due to the injuries suffered by your loved one, call our firm.Frequently Asked Questions
My spouse didn't suffer a traumatic brain injury or catastrophic injury. Do I still have a claim?
Possibly. Let's say every winter you and your spouse went skiing and you both loved winter sports and never missed a winter on the slopes. Then your spouse suffered a knee injury in an accident that leaves them with a permanent impairment or requires knee surgery or a knee replacement. Their doctor has informed them that they can no longer ski. You have now suffered a loss of consortium claim for the companionship and society of your spouse during your ski trips. This is just one example. To determine if you have a claim, we encourage you to reach out to our firm.
My spouse suffered traumatic injuries and was in the hospital and rehab for six months and has now recovered. Can I still make a claim for the months I was the sole caregiver?
Yes. You can make a loss of consortium claim for the time period when your spouse was unable to provide you with companionship, society, and sexual relations.
My husband was in a tragic accident and has suffered lifelong injuries. We have three minor children. Can my children also make a loss of consortium claim?
No. You can bring a spousal loss of consortium claim but children can only make a claim in the event of a wrongful death.
My boyfriend was injured in an accident. Can I bring a loss of consortium claim?
Unfortunately, no. The State of New Hampshire only recognizes married spouses (including gay marriages). It will not recognize any other forms of partnership for purposes of a loss of consortium claim.
My nephew was seriously attacked by a dog. What can I do?
You can provide our information to the boy's parents or guardians. Only parents or guardians of a minor child can bring a claim on behalf of their child. In addition to making a claim against the dog owners for your nephew's injuries, his parents would also be able to bring a loss of consortium claim if your nephew's injuries were so permanent in nature as to warrant this loss.
If your loved one has suffered a serious injury in an accident, contact the Injury Law Center® today at (603) 883-4100 for a free case evaluation.