If you are married and involved in a lawsuit, your spouse may be entitled to also sue for loss of services. Here is what you need to know if you or your spouse are considering bringing about a claim for loss of services:
- Not Every Accident Warrants A Spousal Claim: Yes potentially every personal injury claim could have a spousal loss of services component to it but you may not want to bring that claim for a smaller case. In my office we only bring a spousal claim when the case is a large injury or loss of life. Remember the idea behind the spousal claim is that the spouse lost something from their injured partner that contributed to their relationship. So for example a wife who broke her ribs in an accident and the husband lost 2 weeks from work and then went back to work is really not going to have any substantive spousal claim. We can see a difference where the wife lost her leg to an accident and the husband stayed home from work for a year and their life was completely turned upside down. Of course there would be a substantial claim in that case. Talk to your lawyer as to whether your case warrants the claim.
- Boyfriends and Girlfriends Don't Count: At least in New York it doesn't. You must be married at the time of the injury to have the necessary standing to bring the claim.
- Expect To Work For The Claim: If you bring the claim then its no different than trying to win any other claim. You better have proof the spousal loss. So you are going to have to substantiate loss of work due to the caring of the injured souse, psychological reports on the impact of the marriage if their is a claim that the marital relationship has been hurt. This is also why we just don't just bring claims for loss of services. It requires proof.
- You Better Not Be Shy: While I have never seen a defense attorney ask a spouse at a deposition what sexual positions can't be performed you can bet your last dollars that the following will be asked: How often did you have sex before the injury;How often do you have it now; In what way are you limited or where do you have pain from sex. If you are seeking marriage counseling then all the records will be seen by the defense lawyer, the insurance company and the jury if the case goes to court. Even if you discuss things with the therapist that may not be directly related to the accident as long as there were also discussions about the injury that has affected the marriage. In sum be prepared to show it all if you are claiming a diminished sex life a result of an injury.
- Insurance Companies Are Skeptical: As it is they don't believe half the injuries out there. When it comes to spousal claims except in the most obvious cases they are not very sympathetic.
- You Better Expect Something Small: Except in a handful of cases when there is a payout to a spouse it's usually very small. It could be 5% of the settlement if that.
The take away here is that good personal injury lawyers will not pursue these claims unless there is a real possibility of a recovery, which is not easy. In the event there is a substantial claim remember the above. If you have been involved in an accident contact us if you have any questions about spousal claims or anything else related to your case. We are always willing to answer questions and help potential clients figure out their legal options. We provide free consultations with no obligation to help you figure out the best course of action to take. Give us a call today at 516-222-4000.