The term “consort” is a term that was traditionally used to refer to a person’s wife or husband. The phrase “consort with” often meant to associate with someone closely. Thus, “loss of consortium” is a legal term referring to the loss of association or companionship with a person, usually a close partner or family member.
Legally speaking, “loss of consortium” generally refers to the damage sustained to your relationship because of an injury to you or your spouse. Many attorneys define loss of consortium to be the loss or decrease of a sexual relationship.
However, loss of consortium can also refer to other types of losses. These include the loss of care, companionship, and affections of a loved one, whether or not there is a decrease or loss of a sexual relationship. Loss of consortium is commonly raised in cases such as car accident claims, negligence claims, and wrongful death cases.
Who Can You Recover Damages Loss of Consortium For?
Loss of consortium claims can vary by state, as each state may have different personal injury laws. In many instances, loss of consortium can apply to many different situations and types of relationships, not just spouses. These can include:
- Parental Consortium: Some states have recognized the loss of a relationship between a child and their parent or parents. In other words, a child may be able to sue for the loss of their parent’s care, companionship, and affections. This is because it can affect the child’s development, welfare and personality for the rest of his life.
- Some state laws only grant loss of consortium damages where the parent died, while other states recognize consortium damages where the parent was severely harmed or injured.
- Some states allow loss of consortium damages to only minor children; others grant consortium damages in suits by adult children as well.
- Unmarried Partners and Couples: Some jurisdictions may allow loss of consortium claims for persons who are unmarried. However, these types of damages can sometimes be difficult to obtain. You may need to consult with a lawyer who can tell you if you can receive loss of consortium damages for your partner in your state.
- Grandparents: Some state laws also recognize loss of consortium rights of grandparents to their grandchildren in limited circumstances.
Again, each state will have different laws when it comes to specific circumstances. What is allowed in one area might not be allowed in another state. You may need to consult with an attorney to determine exactly what the laws in your state say.
How Do You Prove Loss of Consortium?
When reviewing a loss of consortium claim, states may review a wide range of factors to prove the claim. These may include:
- The stability of the marriage or relationship;
- How long the relationship has lasted;
- Each person’s individual life expectancy;
- The projected loss of benefits (for instance, a person in a coma might be seen as a greater loss than a person who sustained a broken bone); and/or
- Various other factors
These factors are very important when determining loss of consortium damages. For instance, individual life expectancy is a very important factor. If a person whose spouse passed away is relatively younger, they may have had a certain amount of years that they could expect to spend with their spouse or loved one.
In comparison, if the person whose spouse passed away is older or advanced in years, they may have fewer years to expect to spend with their loved one. Courts will consider such factors as these when calculating a damages award for loss of consortium.
What Do You Get for Loss of Consortium?
Because the type of injury and losses involved can be unique, damages for loss of consortium will differ from case to case. Generally speaking, loss of consortium is a type of non-economic damage. Other types of losses like hospital expenses can be accurately calculated with some precision. However, non-economic damages like loss of consortium are somewhat more abstract and may take into account other factors such as pain and suffering.
As a result, there is no real general rule or formula for calculating loss of consortium damages. It will usually require the assistance of a lawyer, who can help determine the amount of damage appropriate for the case.
It should also be noted that some states may impose a cap or limit on non-economic damages, including loss of consortium. Such laws are subject to frequent change, so you may need to check with a legal professional regarding the status of the laws in your area. Ultimately, it is also up to the judge presiding over the case to determine the actual dollar amount of the remedy.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Recover Damages for Loss of Consortium?
The laws that regulate loss of consortium can be very complex and will vary from state to state. If you believe that you have a loss of consortium claim, an experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you understand your state’s laws. A personal injury attorney can also represent you in court and can guide you through the overall legal process.