I recently suffered a life-changing injury that affected me physically and mentally. My wife and I are considering adding a loss of consortium claim to our personal injury lawsuit, but I've heard that we can expect some pretty personal questions from the other side. What kinds of questions can they ask in interrogatories?
In personal injury cases, loss of consortium is a claim that is usually brought by the spouse or family member of a person who was injured.
The idea is that, as a result of the defendant's actions, the person who was injured cannot provide his or her spouse or family member with the same love, affection, companionship, comfort, society, or sexual relations that were provided prior to the injury. (Learn more: Do I Have a Loss of Consortium Claim?)
If you file a loss of consortium claim as part of a personal injury lawsuit, as with any kind of injury case you can expect to receive written interrogatories from the defendant (the person or company on the other side of the lawsuit). Interrogatories are questions that you're required to respond to in writing, and under oath. (Learn more about Interrogatories in Injury Cases.)
Let's look at the kinds of questions you can expect when it comes to interrogatories in a loss of consortium claim. As you mention, they can get pretty personal.
Standard Questions. The first questions you'll encounter in interrogatories for a loss of consortium will be similar to the kinds of questions you can expect in any kind of injury case: your full name, address, social security number, and possibly your employment information.
Questions About Marriage and Marital History. Next, the interrogatories will likely ask for specific information about the marital history of both spouses (including names of previous spouses, reasons for divorce, and information about children from previous marriages).
In addition, you can expect to be asked for detailed information about your current marriage (including where it was licensed and information about the ceremony) and whether or not you have natural or adopted children. You'll also be asked whether you and your spouse have ever been legally separated.
Questions About Your Marital Relationship. Interrogatories in a loss of consortium claim will ask some pretty personal questions about the spouses' relationship.
These can include inquiries about how much time the spouses spent together before and after the injury, including frequency of sexual relations and other intimate conduct.
You can also expect questions about whether or not you and/or your spouse have received counseling or therapy from a mental health professional, including treatment for marriage difficulties or sexual dysfunction/incompatibility.
Finally, in a lot of injury case where the plaintiff (or a spouse) is asking for damages for loss of consortium, the interrogatories will also ask questions about whether you and your spouse have been named in any civil or criminal action involving allegations of physical abuse -- during the course of your marriage or over a certain period of recent years.
All of these issues are usually "in play" in a loss of consortium claim, so you'll probably need to answer questions like these, but your attorney will be able to provide guidance in your specific case.
by: David Goguen, J.D.