When a loved one has suffered an injury or wrongful death, one of the terms you may hear when you are considering seeking damages in civil court against those whom you hold responsible is "loss of consortium." In most cases, this is a claim that can only be brought by a spouse.
Some states, including Illinois, break down a loss of consortium claim into two separate elements -- sentimental and functional. However, when arguing in court for loss of consortium damages for a plaintiff, attorneys may need to explain how the marital relationship as a whole has been damaged due to the actions of the defendant(s).
Whenever a spouse suffers a devastating injury or is killed, it is worth at least discussing with your attorney the possibility of asking for damages for loss of consortium. It's not necessarily the best strategy for every case. Some plaintiffs may not feel comfortable discussing their sexual relationship with their spouse in court before a judge and/or jury. If a marriage was troubled before the injury, this could be a problematic strategy.
Whether a plaintiff chooses to include loss of consortium in a civil lawsuit is a highly personal decision, as it could well involve one or both spouses having to answer questions about intimate details of their marriage as it existed prior to the accident and what has changed since then. After weighing the pros and cons, an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney will advise his or her client on the best course of action for the particular case and whether it is worthwhile to pursue damages of loss of consortium as part of the suit.
Source: American Bar Association, "Loss of Consortium: When Should You Bring the Claim?," Patricia Zimmer, accessed April. 22, 2015