When your spouse is seriously injured in a car accident, the injury and its aftermath impact the whole family. While your spouse undergoes medical treatment and recovers from his or her injuries, you will likely have to pick up the slack in practical terms. Exactly what that means will differ from family to family, but may include taking on more responsibility for care and transportation of your children, doing more of the housework and yard maintenance, assuming more responsibility for shopping, cooking, and other day-to-day activities, and transporting your injured spouse to and from medical and rehabilitation appointments.
At the same time, your income may have been cut in half—or, if you are a stay-at-home parent, temporarily or permanently eliminated. These issues add up to a lot of stress on the uninjured spouse—physical, mental, emotional, and financial stress.
Although these pressing issues may consume most of your time and energy in the days after the accident, it is important that you start to think about longer term solutions as early as possible. The first step toward regaining some financial security, ensuring that your spouse receives the medical care he or she needs, and taking some of the pressure off is to talk with an experienced local personal injury lawyer.
Loss of Consortium and other Claims in Los Angeles
While the exact damages available after a car accident vary from case to case, people who have been injured by negligent drivers or as a result of a defective vehicle or poorly maintained roads are often entitled to:
• Reimbursement for medical expenses
• Reimbursement for costs of rehabilitation
• Compensation for pain and suffering
• Compensation for lost wages
• Projected losses from reduced earning capacity
• Projected future medical expenses
• Property damage
While money will not make up for the injury your spouse suffered or the stress that the accident has put on both of you and the rest of your family, this compensation can play an important role in your spouse’s recovery and your effort to get your family life back on track. For example, fair compensation can:
• Ensure that your spouse has access to the medical care and rehabilitative services he or she needs
• Pay for any necessary counseling or other assistance
• Allow you to modify your home or vehicle, or purchase equipment that will allow your spouse to be more independent
• Make up for the income your household lost when your spouse was injured
• Allow you to pay for assistance as necessary, such as childcare that was not necessary when there were two healthy adults in the house, or a visiting nurse for your spouse
Of course, knowing that your spouse’s medical needs are provided for and being able to secure assistance with his or her care and some of the areas in which you’re doing double duty will take some of the pressure off of you, as well. But, you may also be entitled to direct compensation for your own losses.
Entitled Compensation When Your Spouse is injured in Los Angeles County
When your spouse has been seriously injured, the focus is often on the person who has suffered a serious physical injury and has clear medical and practical needs. However, you are a victim of the accident, too. Your spouse’s injuries and limitations have a significant impact on your quality of life, and not just in financial terms.
When one spouse is injured through the negligent or intentional act of a third party, California law allows the other spouse to pursue damages directly. The claim is for “loss of consortium,” which means the loss of the society, support, affection and other aspects inherent in the marital relationship. Some losses for which a spouse may seek compensation include:
• Loss or diminishment of the ability to share activities you may previously have enjoyed together, such as travel, bicycling, hiking, or other activities
• Loss of support and assistance in the household, which leaves you with greater responsibilities
• Diminishment in the quality of your relationship, if your spouse experiences depression, irritability, cognitive loss, or your interactions are otherwise changed for the worse by the injury
• Loss of enjoyment of sexual relations
• Loss of the ability/opportunity to reproduce
• Loss of emotional and moral support from your spouse when you are facing difficulties or need assistance in making decisions and solving problems
Getting Help from a Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney
One of the responsibilities that may fall to you after your spouse is seriously injured in a car accident is taking the necessary steps to secure the compensation you both need to move forward after the injury. While it’s easy to put this task on the back burner when your hands are full, delaying can perpetuate your difficulties. The sooner you retain an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you and your spouse in connection with the accident, the sooner the process of pursuing compensation can begin. And, of course, the sooner the process begins, the sooner you are likely to receive a settlement or proceed to trial.
In addition, working with a trusted advocate can reduce your stress immediately, as the law firm will take on responsibility for issues that may have been nagging at you, such as:
• Determining the statute of limitations and ensuring that no important deadlines are missed
• Acting as a buffer between you and the insurance company, fielding inquiries and negotiating for benefits
• Investigating the accident to identify potential responsible parties and sources of compensation for you and your spouse
• Ensuring that you receive any no-fault benefits that are available in a timely manner, to help take the pressure off and keep medical care underway
• Gathering evidence to build a strong case on your behalf
• Identifying, locating, interviewing, and preparing key witnesses
• Negotiating for the most favorable settlement possible or, if it is in your best interest, arguing your case to a jury
Give yourself and your spouse the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you have an experienced, dedicated advocate in your corner. Then, shift your attention back to caring for yourself and your family.