In a car accident case, “loss of consortium” may be a separate claim, or it may be an element of the damages that are being sought. Basically, “loss of consortium” refers to the negative effects that the car accident has had on the injured person’s relationship with his or her family. In some states and in some contexts, “loss of consortium” refers to the inability to have a normal sexual relationship with a spouse or partner as a result of an injury. In other states, “loss of consortium” is a little broader and refers to the loss of emotional support and other intimacies between family members.
However loss of consortium is defined, once it is claimed by an injured person or a family member as part of a car accident case, it is very likely to come up during car accident deposition questioning. A deposition is a pre-trial tool that is used to get information from witnesses. The person being deposed must answer a series of questions under oath, and a court reporter is there to transcribe the proceedings. And where a “loss of consortium” claim is made, some very personal questions may be asked. In this article, we’ll discuss the kinds of deposition questions to expect related to loss of consortium.
The scope of the questions being asked at the deposition will depend on the specifics of the loss of consortium claim. Does it pertain to the relationship between two spouses? Does it encompass the relationship between a parent and a child?
Your Marriage and Marital History. You’ll be asked to provide details on your own marital history, and that of your spouse (including reasons for any divorces in the past). As for your current marriage, you’ll be asked about your children, whether you’ve been separated, and other details.
Your Relationship with Your Spouse. Here’s where the questions will get personal (maybe surprisingly so). You’ll be asked how much time you and your spouse spent together before and after the injury, including the kinds of activities you participated in, and the frequency of sexual relations and other intimate contact.
You’ll also be asked whether you’ve participated in counseling or therapy sessions (together or separately) and whether you (or your spouse) have ever seen a health care or mental health professional for issues related to sexual dysfunction.
You can also expect questions as to whether you or your spouse have ever been named in any criminal or civil allegations of abuse (either during or prior to your marriage).
Remember, most of this information is fair game for the defendant to request. You’re putting the subject matter “in play” by asking the defendant to compensate you and your spouse for losses associated with some very intimate aspects of your relationship.
When the injury affects a parent’s ability to provide care and support for a child, deposition questions might cover:
The type and frequency of care that the injured person provided prior to the injury, and the type of frequency of care that is possible post-injury
Detailed information on how the injuries and their effects have made it impossible for the parent and child to develop or continue a normal, loving, supportive relationship.
The impact that the injuries have had on the parent’s ability to provide child care assistance and support, and to participate in household and family-related activities.
While you’ll probably need to answer most of the questions related to a loss of consortium claim, remember that you’ll have your own attorney sitting right next to you throughout the deposition. He or she will know what’s fair game and what is not, and will be there to advise you accordingly.
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