Slip and fall accidents might seem minor but the shocking reality is that the injuries suffered can be catastrophic, and left untreated have the potential to worsen significantly. This is what happened to a 44-year-old man who hit his head when he fell.
A Life Forever Changed
After falling and hitting his head, the man in this case immediately sought treatment at Rhode Island Hospital. At that time he was able to walk, talk, and respond to commands. His doctors released him and instructed him to return for additional testing if anything changed. His family brought him back to the hospital after he became confused.
Upon examination, he was misdiagnosed by a neurosurgery resident, who believed he had post-concussive syndrome. He was admitted to the hospital for observation but despite the fact that regular neuro checks had been ordered over a 40 hour period of time, only one was performed.
By the time that he was checked on again, he was unresponsive and unable to eat, drink, talk, and was incontinent. It was determined that he suffered from a brain herniation and the lack of treatment left him with permanent brain damage. He was in a coma for seven weeks and then spent the next year and a half in hospitals and rehab centers before he was deemed healthy enough to return home.
Today, he has lost the ability to walk, has limited vision, and has difficulty talking.
His wife, both on his behalf and individually, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital. She alleged that the hospital failed to ensure that her husband was seen by a neurosurgeon, that the nurses failed to do the required checks in time, and that the doctors who did see her husband misdiagnosed him. She also claimed that the hospital inadequately supervised and trained their staff.
The case went to trial and in the end the jury awarded the plaintiff $25.59 million. This included $15 million in non-economic damages and $5 million to his wife for loss of consortium.
Loss Of Consortium In New York
Loss of consortium refers to a claim that a physically uninjured spouse makes in addition to any complaints made by their injured spouse. Three types of losses are frequently considered: loss of support, loss of services, and loss of quality in the marital relationship.
Loss Of Support
This refers to the amount of financial contribution that the victim would have provided to the family if they hadn’t been injured. The amount awarded does take into consideration the amount lost in wages but is separate from any damages given to the victim for compensation of that loss.
Loss Of Services
This is an estimate of the value of the chores and work the spouse normally performed around the house. This is intended to compensate the spouse for having to find a way to cope with the loss of help in the household.
Loss of Quality In The Marital Relationship
This takes into consideration the love, affection, companionship, and sexual intercourse that the spouse would have provided for their husband or wife.
Every state approaches loss of consortium differently, and in New York, the factors considered when determining the amount awarded to a plaintiff are:
- how active the victim was in their social life
- the types of services the victim performed in the household prior to the accident
- the attention, love, and companionship they provided their family prior to the accident
- the disposition and temperament of the victim
There is no set way to determine how much should be awarded for loss of consortium and verdicts can be vastly different from case to case.