A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can devastate the life of the victim, but what about the victim’s spouse?
After a traumatic brain injury, it’s not uncommon for couples to find that the entire dynamic of their relationship has changed for the worse. The impact of a TBI doesn’t just stop with the actual victim.
Loss of consortium claims are possible after TBIs
The law recognizes that spouses are often secondary victims whenever their loved ones are injured in catastrophic accidents through what’s known as “loss of consortium” claims. A loss of consortium happens when someone is deprived of their spousal relationship due to the actions of another. In this state, both spouses and domestic partners have the right to pursue such claims.
Traumatic brain injuries often lead to loss of consortium claims because:
- The injured spouse is no longer able to handle their former responsibilities. TBI victims may need extensive rehabilitation just to regain basic daily living skills, and some never recover. That means that they cannot work, cannot handle household chores and cannot split the regular burdens of married life with their spouse.
- The uninjured spouse usually has to assume a caregiver’s role. When one spouse is badly injured, the other spouse often becomes their primary caregiver during their recovery. That often means putting aside their own hopes and dreams indefinitely. It may also mean picking up a lot of burdens related to the house and family that they didn’t anticipate.
- The relationship between the couple may change. When one spouse becomes physically dependent on the other, many relationships suffer. Both spouses may feel grief, guilt and even resentment about their circumstances, and that can lead to problems adjusting to their new roles, anxiety and depression.
- Some marriages simply don’t survive. This may be particularly true when the injured spouse is indefinitely confined to a nursing home because their long-term care cannot be managed at home. It’s also common when the TBI causes personality changes in the injured spouse that makes them difficult to be around.
If your spouse or domestic partner has suffered a traumatic brain injury, it’s absolutely fair to acknowledge that you’ve also suffered losses. It’s also fair to expect compensation and to seek legal guidance in order to pursue any damages to which you may be rightfully entitled.