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All About Loss of Consortium Claims in South Carolina

Devastating accidents injure thousands of people in South Carolina each year. Victims struggle with bodily pain and disabilities, often unable to leave the house on their own. However, the accident victim is not the only one negatively impacted. Their spouse can also watch helplessly as their life is turned upside down. After a tragic accident, many men and women feel as if they have been widowed or divorced, even if their spouse lives. The impact is that dramatic. 

In South Carolina, a loss of consortium claim compensates a spouse for his or her losses suffered after their spouse is injured. This is a claim the spouse who wasn’t involved in the accident brings. As you can imagine, these legal claims are complicated and detailed, so you will want to reach out to an experienced Aiken, SC personal injury attorney to begin building a case. 

When Can You Bring a Loss of Consortium Claim? 

Our clients have brought a loss of consortium claim in a variety of contexts. One situation is where your spouse died, but we tend to call these cases “wrongful death” claims. 

You might also have a loss of consortium claim if your spouse is gravely injured but survives. In our experience, these cases are most successful when your spouse suffers a catastrophic injury, like permanent disability or severe brain damage. Temporary or relatively mild injuries do not support a loss of consortium claim. 

Typically, spouses file these claims pursuant to South Carolina Code § 15-75-20. We file loss of consortium claims against the defendant who injured your husband or wife. If your wife were in a car accident, you would have a claim against the negligent driver who crashed into her car. As the spouse, you might also bring a loss of consortium claim against the negligent driver. 

Compensation for a Loss of Consortium Claim 

This type of legal claim provides compensation for the losses suffered by the spouse who wasn’t killed or hurt in the accident.  Although this person did not suffer bodily injuries, they nonetheless have experienced certain losses: 

  • Loss of counsel. A spouse can offer counsel and emotional support to their husband or wife. After a devastating accident, they might be unable to communicate or not even conscious. 

  • Loss of intimacy. Serious accidents can impair sexual intimacy between spouses. This is a loss which deserves financial compensation. 

  • Lost household services. A spouse might provide many services for the family, including laundry, yard work, home maintenance, cooking, cleaning, and childcare. A severely injured spouse cannot provide these services any longer. 

  • Lost financial support. A person who suffers a catastrophic injury can no longer work, which means their family suffers an immediate and drastic loss of financial support. 

As you can see, some of these losses are economic in nature. Household services like cooking and cleaning have a market value, which you would pay if you had to hire someone to perform them. Meanwhile, other losses like loss of intimacy or care, do not have a market value. 

When it comes time to negotiate a settlement, insurance companies aggressively deny liability. They also don't want to pay fair compensation for any type of loss, especially non-economic losses, including loss of intimacy. 

We should point out, under Section 15-75-20, you can’t double dip damages. For example, if your spouse survives the accident, they can seek lost income or wages in their own personal injury suit. You, therefore, cannot receive lost financial support in a loss of consortium claim. 

What is the Maximum You Can Receive? 

Each case is different. As mentioned above, some losses are non-economic in nature, so we might fight about how much you should receive for loss of counsel or intimacy. Other losses have a definite dollar value. 

There might be other limitations. The defendant might not have any insurance—or only a policy with a small dollar amount. This insurance policy might represent the only pot of money available to pay a settlement, and it could be insufficient to cover even your injured spouse’s losses. Where the defendant has no money, we might not receive anything for loss of consortium. 

An additional limitation is comparative negligence. The defendant might not have sole responsibility for the accident. If your injured spouse was 20% at fault, then you will receive a 20% reduction for your loss of consortium claim. 

Evidence for a Loss of Consortium Claim 

Anyone filing this claim needs evidence. It’s not enough to simply assert that you were harmed. You need proof. 

First, we’ll need to show the defendant caused your spouse’s injury or death. A loss of consortium claim stands or falls on proving your spouse was badly hurt—and the defendant was to blame. 

Second, we need to prove how your spouse’s injuries have negatively impacted your marital relationship. That might mean proving your spouse can’t work or do household services anymore. 

Loss of consortium claims often requires that people talk about intimate, potentially difficult topics. We work closely with our clients to get them to feel comfortable about opening up. The only way to receive compensation is to speak in honest terms about how the accident has impacted you. 

Speak with an Aiken, SC Personal Injury Attorney Today 

Loss of consortium claims are some of the hardest to bring in a personal injury case. Not every lawyer is prepared to file a claim for the spouse, so make sure to feel out whether your lawyer is aware of this type of claim. 

At Surasky Law, we have helped many accident victims seek compensation for motor vehicle collisions, slip and falls, and other mishaps. We have also helped spouses who watched as their loved one struggled with catastrophic injuries. You deserve to be treated fairly as well by defendants and their insurance companies. 

Call us today. We can review whether you qualify to bring a loss of consortium claim and what other evidence you will need to be successful. 


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