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Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law – Spousal Claims for Loss of Consortium
Are you married to a victim of medical malpractice in Pennsylvania?
Medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania typically involve a derivative claim known as a loss of consortium claim. This claim derives from the patient’s claim against their doctor or hospital but belongs to the spouse.
Under Pennsylvania law, spouses of injured parties have a legal right to be compensated when the injury (or medical negligence) negatively impacts the marital relationship. When serious medical malpractice cases result in catastrophic, life-changing injury or disability, spouses often suffer mentally and emotionally. Changes to the marital relationship are often sudden, prolonged and profound, and impact all areas of the relationship, including intimacy and companionship.
Example – Stroke Misdiagnosis Leads to Permanent Disability, A Look at a Spouse’s Loss of Consortium Claim
A 55 year old married father of two goes to a hospital in Philadelphia with classic symptoms of stroke: numbness and facial drooping, slurred speech and weakness on the right side of the body. At the ER, he is diagnosed with the flu and sent home with antibiotics. That evening, he suffers a massive stroke and brain bleed that causes paralysis on his right, dominant side as well as facial dropping. The paralysis is so severe that he is effectively unable to use his right arm and hand.
Let’s take a look at the wife’s loss of consortium claim. After the husband is discharged from the hospital and rehab hospital, he undergoes physical therapy. Over the course of the next few months, he is expected to improve, but does not. During this time, the wife assumes 100% of the household responsibilities, including childcare, housework, etc. Meanwhile, the husband becomes withdrawn and depressed. He no longer wants to engage with his family, including his wife. The marital relationship becomes severely strained almost immediately.
Let’s fast forward to 1 year after the stroke. The husband’s condition has not improved, and it’s clear his symptoms are now permanent. During this period and indefinitely in the future, the marital relationship has changed completely. The wife still assumes nearly all of the household and child rearing duties. Physical intimacy has become difficult and rarely occurs. Clearly, the wife has suffered a complete loss of the marital relationship as it existed prior to the stroke misdiagnosis.
Under these circumstances, the wife would have a valid loss of consortium claim. The example here is actually quite common in serious medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania.
Compensation for Loss of Consortium
What’s the value of a spouse’s loss of consortium claim? Courts in Pennsylvania do not use a formula to determine the value of any personal injury claim. This is true of medical malpractice claims as well as loss of consortium claims. Instead, the attorney will present an accurate and complete picture of the nature of the claim and ask the judge or jury to award an amount they think is just and appropriate. For a loss of consortium claim, that means presenting a picture of the marriage before and after the incident.
Morris Wilson Knepp Jaquette – Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Our law firm specializes in medical malpractice cases including medical misdiagnosis cases, hospital malpractice and more. Our firm will also review complex medical malpractice cases rejected by other law firms. We have the skills, reputation and resources to take these cases to trial and win.
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Cases Also Accepted Across Pennsylvania
Chestnut Hill Hospital
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Roxborough Memorial Hospital
Temple University Hospital
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Crozer-Chester Medical Center (Upland)
Delaware County Memorial Hospital (Drexel Hill, Upper Darby)
Springfield Hospital (Springfield)
Taylor Hospital (Ridley)
Abington Hospital (Abington, Lansdale)
Bryn Mawr Hospital (Bryn Mawr)
Einstein Medical (East Norriton, Elkins Park)
Holy Redeemer Hospital (Meadowbrook)
Lankenau Hospital (Wynnewood)
Suburban Community Hospital (Norristown)
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Phila., West Chester, East Norriton, Meadowbrook, Doylestown, Langhorne, Sellersville, etc.)
St. Christopher's Hospital for Children
Shriner's Hospitals for Children
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