When someone you love is in an accident, such as a car accident, you may have legal options available to you. These legal options, when someone else’s negligence is involved, are related to your own pain and suffering as a result of your loved one’s accident.
Loss of consortium is a term you’ll often hear, and it can also be called loss of companionship or loss of affection.
In the most general sense, loss of consortium refers to the loss of the benefits of being married or having a parent you would have otherwise enjoyed, had the accident not occurred.
Loss of consortium may be one part of the damages you seek to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Other possible damages can include the victim’s lost wages, your loss of financial support, and final medical expenses.
The following are some specific things to know about loss of consortium cases.
An Overview- Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is a type of claim that’s different from other car accident claims, in that it’s brought by someone who had a close relationship or is a close family member of the victim of the accident.
This could include a spouse, but it can also relate to the relationship between parents and children in some cases.
Loss of consortium refers to the loss of the benefits that come with having a spouse, such as the ability to show affection. It can also refer to the loss of parenting benefits.
The injured party must have either sustained serious injuries or have died because of a car accident.
If the injured party didn’t die but can’t provide the same parenting, care, companionship, love, or affection, then damages may be recovered.
Measuring Loss of Consortium
If you were to recover damages under loss of consortium, you’d have to prove the value of your loss.
Courts often calculate loss of consortium by looking at factors such as the stability of the marriage and the life expectancy of the husband and the wife.
Other factors are:
- The extent of the loss
- The companionship received by the spouse
- How much the marriage would be impacted by the spouse’s injury
Types of Loss of Consortium
There are three different types of loss of consortium that fall into the larger category.
These are loss of support, loss of services, and loss of quality.
Loss of support refers to the monetary amount an injured spouse would contribute. This is like lost wages that are given to the spouse who’s injured. The calculation for loss of support is based on the wages the injured spouse would have made altogether, and what they would have contributed to the household.
Loss of services relates to the value of things done around the house, such as household maintenance.
Loss of quality is a term referring to the relationship between a couple. It’s a gray area because it’s difficult to calculate it in dollar value but factors include love, companionship, and affection.
Are There Limitations?
There are limitations on loss of consortium awards, which are dictated by state law and also by insurance policies.
You have to prove a valid marriage exists to recover loss of consortium damages as well, so if you were in the midst of a divorce before the trial, then your damages will likely be affected.
Something else to be aware of as far as limitations is the fact there’s often something called single injury limitations that are part of most liability policies.
A single injury limitation is a cap on what an insurance company will cover per incident. As a result of this cap, the consortium claim could be treated separately.
Proving Loss of Consortium
There are certain things that you’ll need to prove for loss of consortium in most cases. Having a lawful, valid marriage or a registered partnership is one of the most important things.
You may need to show your spouse’s medical records, and some people keep a journal so they can detail how the loss of their spouse is affecting them.
Other evidence used in a claim may be similar to what you would need in other personal injury cases, such as eyewitness testimony.
You may need to be able to show what your current quality of life is and you may have to go into intimate details about your quality of life before the injury. Considerations such as infidelity, domestic violence, and living arrangement may be considered, as will things like the ongoing care that will be needed.