What Is “Loss of Consortium”?
The basic principle underlying any personal injury claim is that the injured person should be returned to the position he or she would have been in had the injury not occurred.
Anyone injured in an accident knows how challenging an injury can be to the people around them: their friends, family, colleagues, and loved ones are all impacted when someone they care about is injured. Unfortunately, in most circumstances, only the injured party can recover damages from the wrongdoer.
In Alberta, however, a married person may also bring an action against the wrongdoer. The Tort-Feasors Act recognizes that an injury causes acute harm to the spouse of the injured person in a marriage. When a married person is injured, and the injury deprives their spouse of love, affection, companionship, and sexual intimacy, the non-injured spouse may also be entitled also to bring an action against the wrongdoer. These types of losses are called “loss of consortium.”
Persons injured in an accident should consider how their relationship with their spouse has changed since the accident. Changes to one’s sex life are one example. Other examples include your spouse no longer being the same companion they once were, personality changes, you no longer spend time with each other socially, or no longer enjoy the same sorts of recreational activities.
Who is eligible to bring a “loss of consortium” Claim?
The Tort-Feasors Act states that the “spouse” has the right to bring an action for loss of consortium. The Adult Interdependent Relationships Act in Alberta states in its preamble that “a spouse is a person who is married.” Further, the Alberta Court of King’s Bench decision in Buckingham v Schledt, 2011 ABQB 792 states that the Tort-Feasors Act and the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act restrict the loss of consortium claims to married partners only. This means that your common-law partner may not bring a claim for loss of consortium if you are in a common-law relationship. It is also important to note that Law in Alberta does not distinguish between same-sex and heterosexual marriages; however, only a spouse married to the injured party may bring a claim.
How much is my claim worth?
The amount of damages awarded depends on the injury’s impact on the relationship between the spouses. Therefore, a Court will consider each case differently based on the unique facts of each case. We have included several examples below:
In Madge v Meyer, 1999 ABQB 1017, where the plaintiff suffered serious injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident, the Court awarded $30,000 for loss of consortium. The Court remarked their marriage was no longer one of equals and they had sexual relations less frequently than pre-accident. In addition, Mrs. Madge, from the standpoint of personality, emotion, and intellect, was no longer with the man she married.
Our firm brought the case Sutherland v Encana Corporation, 2014 ABQB 182, to trial. In that case, the wife had been injured in an accident. The Court awarded the husband $7,500 for loss of consortium even though there was limited evidence that the accident substantially interfered with the sexual relationship of the husband and wife.
In Lapointe v Keefe’s Estate, 1986 CanLII 1882 (AB QB), a plaintiff suffered serious injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident. The Court noted that the plaintiff was extremely sensitive to any pressure on her left leg, which resulted in a loss of sexual activity between the husband and wife. Unfortunately, this led to the marriage breakdown, whereas the marriage was normal and happy before the accident. As a result, the Court awarded the husband $15,000 for loss of consortium.
Courts in Alberta have awarded thousands of dollars for loss of consortium claims, and the experienced Lawyers at James H. Brown and Associates can assist you and your spouse with these claims.
Legal Advice & Support with James H. Brown and Associates
Alberta accident injury law is complicated. Even with a solid case, attaining justice and complete compensation for your injuries can be a long and challenging process. When lives and livelihoods hang in the balance, Edmontonians need experience and expertise on their side.
For nearly 30 years, James H. Brown and Associates has proudly stood up for accident victims’ rights, representing our clients in Edmonton and across Alberta. Our team understands firsthand what it’s like to be seriously injured, and is proud of our proven record of getting our clients results.
No two accidents are the same; that’s why we offer a full range of services and support for our clients, including:
- An award-winning team of injury lawyers with an unrivaled record of success.
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- And much more!
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