Nevada law allows people to sue for “loss of consortium” following a wrongful injury to their spouse or registered domestic partner.1 “Consortium” refers to the companionship, moral support and/or intimacy enjoyed by married couples and registered partners.2
A “loss of consortium” cause of action is similar in many respects to a Nevada wrongful death case. However, in a loss of consortium case, the plaintiff is limited to the right to recover “non-economic” compensatory damages.
These subjective damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for a loss in the quality of the relationship and loss of companionship as a result of the defendant’s negligence or other wrongful act. They do not include economic losses such as the injured person’s lost earning capacity, lost wages, or medical expenses. These damages can be recovered by the injured spouse in the same suit.
In Nevada, loss of consortium is a derivative lawsuit. This means to recover, the injured spouse must also sue (and win) for his or her injury in the same lawsuit.3
To help you better understand how to sue under Nevada’s “loss of consortium” law, our Nevada personal injury lawyers discuss, below:
- 1. What is the definition of “loss of consortium” under Nevada law?
- 2. How much can a spouse recover?
- 3. What are the elements of a loss of consortium claim in Nevada?
- 4. How does a plaintiff prove loss of consortium?
- 5. Does the injured spouse have to sue for his or her injury?
1. What is the definition of “loss of consortium” under Nevada law?
Nevada courts generally define “consortium” as the variety of intangible interests which a spouse or registered domestic partner has in the welfare of their spouses or partners. These include love, companionship, affection, society, sexual relations, solace and (if applicable) ability to bear children.4
2. How much in damages can a spouse recover?
Nevada law defines “non-economic damages” as “damages to compensate for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement and other nonpecuniary damages.”5
Nevada law generally places no cap on non-economic damages. A jury can award them in any reasonable amount it deems fair.
The more serious and long-lasting the injury is expected to be, the larger the award for loss of consortium damages.
3. What are the elements of a loss of consortium claim in Nevada?
To prevail on a claim, a plaintiff must prove:
- A valid and lawful marriage or registered domestic partnership,
- A wrongful injury to the plaintiff’s spouse or partner,
- The plaintiff suffered a loss of consortium, and
- The loss of consortium was caused by the injury to the spouse or partner.
The wrongful injury to the spouse or domestic partner can be based on another party’s:
- Gross negligence,
- Intentional tort (wrongful act), or
- Strict liability (under Nevada’s products liability laws).
4. How does a plaintiff prove loss of consortium?
Proving loss of consortium can be challenging and uncomfortable.
It requires the plaintiff to disclose intimate details of the marriage or partnership. It may require the plaintiff and others (such as doctors, family and friends) to testify about changes in the partner’s behavior, including, potentially, details of the couple’s intimate life.
Our caring Nevada injury lawyers and private investigators work closely with our clients and their witnesses so we can explain the loss of consortium to the jury in a way that doesn’t feel exploitative or greedy.
We also work hard to protect our clients from overreaching cross-examination designed to throw our clients off-guard.
5. Does the injured spouse have to sue for his or her injury?
Yes. In Nevada, loss of consortium is a “derivative claim.” This means that a plaintiff’s right to recover derives from the injury to his or her spouse or partner.
In Nevada, the injured spouse or partner must sue for the underlying injury and the loss of consortium claim must be brought in the same case. This differs from some states (such as California) in which the right to claim loss of consortium exists independently of the claim for the injury to the spouse.
The rationale behind the Nevada rule is to protect against a double recovery – even though the damages the two spouses or partners are able to recover are for entirely different things.
It is possible that this rule will change as the law becomes more developed in Nevada. But for now, both spouses or partners must sue.
Was your spouse wrongfully injured in Nevada? Call us for help…
If you have experienced the loss of your spouse’s or partner’s consortium we invite you to contact our personal injury attorneys for a free consultation.
You and your spouse may be entitled to significant compensation. But don’t delay – the statute of limitations in Nevada can be as short as one year in some cases. Call us today to get the compensation you need and the peace of mind you deserve.
Are you or your loved one an accident victim? Our Las Vegas, Nevada injury attorneys may be able to help you recover damages for a car accident, slip-and-fall accident (based on premises liability), dog bite, medical malpractice or other wrongful act. We may be able to recover large compensatory damages to cover your medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Disclaimer: Past results do not guarantee future results.
- NRS 122A.200 confers on registered domestic partners most of the same rights granted to spouses in Nevada.
- General Electric Co. v. Bush, 88 Nev. 360, 498 P.2d 366 (Nevada Supreme Court, 1972).
- NRS 41A.011.