The adverse effects a person endures after suffering injuries in an accident are obvious. These consequences may include severe pain, emotional trauma, and financial losses. However, the victim’s spouse often experiences negative outcomes as well. South Carolina permits the spouses of people injured because of another’s wrongdoing to file compensation claims for the negative effects of the accident on the marriage. These claims are known as “loss of consortium” claims.
If your spouse has been injured in an accident, here is what you need to know about loss of consortium claims in South Carolina.
What Is Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium is a legally recognized claim in South Carolina. This claim is available to spouses of people who have suffered injuries due to another party’s negligence and compensates them for the following categories of losses:
- The loss of society. Generally understood to refer to the loss of sexual relations
- The loss of services and support. These can include emotional counsel, financial support, and household chores
- The loss of quality of the relationship
While the state considers loss of consortium claims as separate legal actions from personal injury cases, they are generally filed in parallel.
Who Can File These Claims in SC?
In South Carolina, the law specifies that only spouses of injury victims have legal standing to file loss of consortium claims. However, there could be an exception in some cases for parents to seek compensation for loss of consortium after their child was injured. Such cases will require a knowledgeable South Carolina loss of consortium attorney.
Furthermore, if a marriage ends after an accident, the injured person’s spouse can still file a claim. However, awards for such claims can often be less significant than those for spouses who are still married.
Requirements for Successfully Making a Claim
South Carolina requires a spouse to prove a loss of consortium case with evidence. Your case can include the following types of proof:
- Demonstrating the liable party was legally negligent and directly caused your spouse’s injury – This connection must be proven with clear evidence and cannot simply be assumed.
- Providing evidence that your spouse’s injuries severely damaged the marital relationship – This evidence can include documentation from marriage counselors, testimony on negative impacts to intimacy and emotional support, and proof of withdrawal from joint social activities.
- Cataloging both tangible and intangible harm to your marriage, which can translate to compensation – This includes customary losses like household services. It also includes more abstract damages such as loss of intimacy.
Additionally, you could utilize expert witnesses to analyze and quantify emotional distress losses related to your loss of companionship. Experts can also provide insights into how marital challenges in these situations may progress or worsen over time. They provide a clearer sense of the accident’s impact on you and your relationship.
Next Steps If Considering a Claim
If you believe you might have a valid loss of consortium claim, the steps you take now will have a profound impact on the success of your case. Prudent next steps include:
- Consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will discuss your situation with you confidentially. An attorney can evaluate your case specifics to determine whether a viable claim exists.
- Act quickly – South Carolina’s strict statute of limitations bars claimants from filing a loss of consortium lawsuit more than three years after the accident date. Furthermore, reconstructing timelines long after incidents occur can prove challenging.
- Gathering applicable evidence and paperwork – The necessary documentation will allow your legal team to build a solid case foundation before formally filing your claim.
- Ensuring you and your spouse present a united front when interacting with insurance providers – Inconsistencies or admissions of minimal marital impact can jeopardize negotiation outcomes and the potential value of your settlement.
Contact Murphy Crantford Meehan Today
Call us if you are experiencing negative consequences in your marital relationship due to your spouse’s accident-related injuries. You probably feel an immense sense of injustice. Filing for loss of consortium alongside your spouse’s personal injury claim can enable you to recover compensation. You can hold the at-fault party accountable for their negligence.
The experienced South Carolina loss of consortium lawyers at Murphy Crantford Meehan can give you the support and advocacy you need as you fight for what you deserve. Our attorneys have over 50 years of collective experience. We are ready to put our knowledge and skills to work for you. Call us today at (843) 396-3496 or contact us online for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.