A serious injury to your partner or spouse arising from a motor vehicle accident or workplace injury will place added strain on your relationship that you otherwise would not have faced.
In Queensland, it is possible to recover compensation for the 'loss of consortium' suffered by a spouse or partner in circumstances where the other party to the relationship has been seriously injured or has died as a result of injuries. These claims are sometimes called 'loss of affection' or loss of companionship' claims.
Loss of consortium is not just a claim for loss of sexual companionship, it is a claim for overall companionship and takes into account the interference with affection, sexual relationship, companionship, assistance, society and comfort provided by each party to the relationship to the other. The claim also extends to the inability of your partner to participate in recreational activities that you may have previously done together or with other members of your family. For example, it would cover the situation where a husband is no longer able to go boating or jet skiing with his partner or children.
Sometimes, the strain of a long term injury on each party may be so severe that it can contribute to or cause the relationship to break down. Where that occurs, the award for damages will be limited to the period up to the date of separation.
There are no clear rules on how these claims for loss of consortium are calculated. The Court will consider factors such as the length of the relationship, the severity of the injuries and the extent to which the level of companionship has been affected.
In Queensland, the entitlement of a spouse or partner to claim damages for loss of consortium depends on how much the injured person is entitled to recover for pain & suffering, also known as general damages. At the moment, the current threshold for general damages is $41,920.00.
The allowance for loss of consortium can range from a few thousand dollars up to $30,000 or $40,000 depending on the circumstances.
In my experience, this entitlement is often overlooked by lawyers practicing in this area who don’t fully appreciate the rights of spouses or partners to claim in this situation.