The Spouse of an Injured Worker May Have a Valid Legal Claim
Loss of Consortium Claims
Under the laws of Pennsylvania, which are applicable in work accident cases, spouses of injured workers may be able to make claims for what is known as “loss of consortium.” This legal principle basically allows the spouse of an injured party to make a claim and obtain financial recovery from the wrongdoer for the loss of the comfort, society, and companionship which result from the accident/injuries.
These types of claims should not be raised in every single accident, injury case. Rather, they should be substantiated by the evidence and should therefore be made on a case by case basis. Such claims should be supported by testimony of family, friends, etc., and if appropriate, physical evidence such as pictures, video, etc.
It is important to note that in Pennsylvania, loss of consortium claims are derivative claims, meaning, they are derived from the original claim (i.e., work accident injury claim). Accordingly, loss of consortium claims are subject to the same defenses as the original claims. Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence principle applies, for instance, to loss of consortium claims.
For example, a worker falls off a roof because of the general contractor’s failure to install required guardrails. As a result of the fall, the worker suffers serious spine injuries. His wife suffers an incredible loss; she must handle all of the household duties and shoulder all of the burdens. During the lawsuit, the defendant argues that the accident occurred, in part, because the worker was goofing off, when he should have been working. Basically, the defendant is arguing that the worker should bear some of the responsibility for having caused the accident (i.e., is comparatively negligent). Here, if the defendant’s claim is substantiated, the worker’s financial recovery will be reduced in accordance with his percentage of liability, which may ultimately be decided by a judge or jury. Likewise, because the wife’s loss of consortium claim is derivative, her financial compensation will also be reduced by a percentage of her husband’s negligence.
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