In Alabama, accidents are a frequent occurrence. According to the state’s most recent data, Alabama drivers have a one in three chance of being in car accidents or trucking accidents that result in injury or death during their lifetimes. Over the past ten years, the number of accidents and injuries in Alabama have increased considerably.
While a car or motorcycle accident is obviously difficult for the person who is injured, accidents also harm the loved ones of those who are hurt. In the law, a special claim called “loss of consortium” allows spouses to recover for the damage that the accident caused to the marriage relationship. Read on to learn more about loss of consortium in Alabama.
What is Loss of Consortium?
Alabama courts have said that loss of consortium is the loss of “conjugal fellowship of husband and wife, and the right of each other to the company, society, co-operation, affection, and aid of the other in every conjugal relation.” All of these complicated legal words boil down to this: Under Alabama law, if a car accident injury impacts a marriage, the non-injured spouse can sue for those damages. The rule also applies if the spouse was killed. (If your spouse died, you can file a wrongful death claim. Your loss of consortium claim is separate from the wrongful death claim.)
For example, if a person’s car accident injuries prevent them from performing housework, socializing with their spouse, or engaging in marital relations with their spouse, a loss of consortium claim could be appropriate.
Note: Claims for loss of consortium in Alabama are considered “derivative.” This means that if your spouse’s claim against the defendant fails, your loss of consortium claim will also fail.
Who Can Bring a Loss of Consortium Claim in Alabama?
Alabama has strict rules about who can bring loss of consortium claims.
While many states allow parents and children to bring loss of consortium claims, in Alabama, neither parents nor children can bring loss of consortium claims.
In Alabama, only legally married spouses can bring loss of consortium claims. However, there is one exception to this rule. Before 2016, Alabama recognized common-law marriage. A common-law marriage occurs when two people are not legally married but present themselves to the public as a married couple. If you and your spouse were common-law married on or before December 31, 2016, you can still bring a loss of consortium claim. However, because Alabama abolished common-law marriage on January 1, 2017, if your relationship began after that date, you must be legally married to bring a loss of consortium claim.
In Alabama, the time limit to file a loss of consortium suit is two years. You should visit a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to make sure that your lawsuit is filed before the two-year period expires.
How Do I Prove Loss of Consortium in Alabama?
Under Alabama law, loss of consortium – like other personal injury claims – requires proof that the defendant caused harm. To prevail, you’ll need to show that:
- you were lawfully married to your spouse at the time of the injury;
- your spouse was injured;
- the injury caused your relationship to suffer due to loss of companionship, affection, sexual relations, and the like; and
- the defendant’s negligence was the cause of these losses.
Evidence of how the injury affected the relationship will be very helpful to your claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand what you need to prove and how you can prove it.
How Much Is My Alabama Loss of Consortium Case Worth?
Most plaintiffs want to know, “How much is my case worth?” However, there is no easy answer to this question. Because every case is different, the results will depend on many factors. In general, some of the issues Alabama courts consider are:
– Whether the marriage was stable, loving, and likely to last;
– The types of benefits that the spouse provided before the injury;
– Each spouses’ individual life expectancy.
So, evidence that you have been happily married for 25 years and planning to renew your vows will help your case considerably. On the other hand, proof that you met with a divorce lawyer the week before the accident may be viewed negatively by the jury. Proof that your relationship was left unchanged by the accident might also hurt your injury claim. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine which facts will help your case.
What if I Have Questions about Loss of Consortium in Alabama?
Loss of consortium claims have lots of rules and requirements. Navigating these rules can be difficult. However, if your spouse has been injured by a negligent driver, you have rights. If you have questions about Alabama loss of consortium claims, contact Collins Law, LLC. Our team of personal injury lawyers fights for clients in Birmingham and other areas of Alabama. If your loved one has been hurt in a motorcycle accident, trucking accident, or other car accident, we can help! Call 205.588.1411 or click here to schedule your free consultation.