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What is loss of companionship?

As a New York resident, it can be devastating when your spouse is injured or dies as the result of negligence or other circumstances of wrongful death. That devastation can be compounded even further by the loss of physical and emotional intimacy that can be caused by significant personal injury or the passing of a spouse or partner. When you feel the loss of your partner's capacity in your relationship has diminished enough to significantly impact you and your household, this is often referred to in legal terms as loss of companionship or loss of consortium.

Unfortunately, according to St. John's Law Review the state of New York does not consider loss of consortium a valid claim for recovery of damages in a wrongful death suit. However, it can still be helpful to understand loss of consortium to know what is or is not actionable when pursuing a suit on behalf of yourself or your spouse. The general definition of loss of consortium is considered a personal injury claim, and comes up most often in wrongful death suits.

Even if your partner is still living, you may consider the long-term effects of injury or illness to be loss of consortium if your partner's physical state renders them incapable participating in what qualifies as a normal level of sexual activity in your relationship. If brain damage, distress or other trauma prevent them from engaging in emotional intimacy, this also qualifies as loss of companionship. Loss of companionship can also include instances when your partner is unable to perform household duties and services, shifting the responsibility completely to you. While each of these factors is regrettable and has a significant impact on your life, as the partner rather than the injured party you may not be able to pursue these specific avenues in a suit under New York law.

The information provided here is for reference purposes only, and is not intended to stand in for the advice of qualified legal counsel.

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