Loss of companionship and consortium also called the loss of society, loss of conjugal fellowship, and loss of marital compatibility are all different names for the same thing. Essentially, these terms refer to the emotional sadness one goes through when an immediate family member (spouse or child) has been injured or killed. It can include the grief from the loss of sexual relations or the loss of the ability to have children.
How Does Loss of Companionship Apply in Wrongful Death Cases?
Loss of companionship and consortium is considered a non-economic damage and is often associated with wrongful death cases. These are considered non-economic damages because the loss of companionship cannot be quantified in numbers.
What Are Some Limits on Recovering for Loss of Companionship?
Some states are afraid that juries will be tempted to award excessive damages if they hear an especially heart-wrenching story. Thus, many states impose limits on how much one can recover for loss of consortium. Wisconsin imposes a cap of $350,000 for the death of an adult and $500,000 for the death of a minor. Arkansas imposes a cap of $500,000 for loss of consortium and Maine caps loss of consortium damages at $400,000.
In some states where there is a limit on non-economic damages, it is controversial to include loss of consortium into that figure. As loss of consortium may not be specifically listed in statutes that limit non-economic damages, some states do not include the amount awarded for loss of consortium into the final figure for non-economic damages. Thus, even if there is a cap on non-economic damages, you will not be prohibited from recovering for loss of consortium.
States also limit recovery for loss of consortium to an injury that occurred during the marriage. Thus, same-sex couples may have a difficult time recovering for loss of consortium in many states if their marriage is not recognized.
Should I Contact an Attorney?
If you are dealing with a loss of consortium, you should always first contact an attorney as each state has different laws concerning loss of consortium. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to tell you the limit of what you can recover and can inform you of all the various options available to you.