Damages awarded in a personal injury case include:
- Economic damages: Damages that compensate a plaintiff for actual, measurable monetary loss.
- Non-economic damages: Damages that compensate for losses that are not easily quantifiable and non-monetary.
- Pain and suffering damages: Bodily or emotional harm caused by a personal injury; a type of non-economic damage.
- Punitive damages: A monetary award to a plaintiff to punish a defendant’s bad behavior.
Loss of consortium falls in the non-economic damages category.
What Is Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium is awarded to cover the physical and emotional loss a spouse experiences after their spouse is incapacitated and must be brought by an immediate family member of the accident victim (spouse, parent, child).
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.
These terms refer to the emotional sorrow one goes through when an immediate family member (spouse or kid) has been wounded or killed.
It can include the suffering from the loss of sexual relations or the loss of the ability to have children caused by personal injury.
How Is Loss of Consortium Measured?
To recover damages under the loss of consortium damages, a spouse must demonstrate the value of the loss. Courts will then calculate the loss of consortium damages by considering several different factors:
- Strength of the marriage
- The life expectancy of both the husband and wife
- The nature and scope of the loss
- How much companionship the spouse received
- How much their marriage would be impacted because of the injury to the spouse
What Are the Types of Loss of Consortium?
These damages generally fall into three categories:
- Loss of support
- Loss of services
- Loss of quality
What Is Loss of Support?
Loss of support includes the monetary amount the injured spouse would have contributed to the family. It is the same as lost wages given to the injured spouse.
A jury estimates the loss of support amount by adding the salaries of the injured spouse:
- Would have made overall
- Would have contributed to the family
For instance, an injured spouse known to give all their income to the household would receive a more significant award than someone who gave only a tiny percentage of their income to the family.
What Is Loss of Services?
Loss of services refers to the value placed on work, such as tasks the spouse did in and around the home. Services can range from taking care of pets to trimming the lawn and making household restorations.
What Is Loss of Quality?
Loss of quality refers to the marital relationship between the couple. The emotional part of the marriage cannot be calculated in dollars and cents but is most valued by a married couple. It includes:
- Sexual intercourse
- The ability to ask the other spouse for guidance
Who Can Recover Loss of Consortium Damages?
The individual or individuals that can recover loss of consortium damages depends on the applicable state law. Most losses of consortium cases involve a spouse of the injured party. They can also apply to the relationship between parents and kids in some states.
In these circumstances, the kid or parent would bring a claim stating that the injured parent or child can no longer provide the same level of care, fostering, and affection as they provided before the injury and the relationship was damaged.
Loss of consortium claims can differ by state, as each state may have distinct personal injury laws.
To reiterate, loss of consortium can apply to many different situations and relationships, not solely to spouses. These can include parental consortium. Some states have identified the loss of a relationship between a kid and their parent or parents as a loss of consortium, meaning a minor may be able to sue for the loss of their parent’s care, companionship, and affections. This is because it can negatively impact the kid’s growth, welfare, and character for the rest of their life.
Some state rules only grant loss of consortium damages where the parent has died, while other states acknowledge consortium damages where the parent was harshly harmed or injured.
Some states permit the loss of consortium damages to only minor children, while others grant consortium damages in suits by adult children.
Some jurisdictions may authorize loss of consortium claims for unmarried members; however, these damages can be considerably difficult to get. You should consult with a lawyer who can enlighten you regarding whether you can receive loss of consortium damages for your partner in your specific state.
Some state laws recognize the loss of consortium rights of grandparents to their grandchildren, but generally in narrow circumstances.
When reviewing a loss of consortium claim, states consider multiple factors to confirm the claim. These factors include, but may not be limited to:
- The overall strength of the marriage or relationship;
- How long the relationship has lasted;
- Each person’s life expectancy
The projected loss of benefits is how a person in a coma might be seen as a more significant loss than a person who sustained a broken bone.
Individual life expectancy is a significant factor when resolving damages for loss of companionship and consortium. An example of this would be how if a person whose spouse died is somewhat younger, they may have had a certain amount of years that they could expect to spend with their spouse or loved one. Alternatively, if the individual whose spouse died is older or more advanced in years, they may have fewer years to anticipate spending with their loved one.
What Are the Limitations to Loss of Consortium Damages?
Each state has set its limitations on the loss of consortium damages. In most states, if a spouse brings a claim, the spouse must establish that a valid marriage exists.
Also, some states have set restrictions and caps on how much you can recover from the insurance company per accident for loss of consortium damages.
Because the type of injury and losses involved can be unique, damages for loss of consortium can differ dramatically from case to case. Generally speaking, loss of consortium is considered a type of non-economic damage. Other losses, such as hospital costs, can be calculated accurately. Nevertheless, non-economic damages such as loss of consortium are somewhat more abstract and, as such, may take into account other aspects such as pain and suffering.
Because of this, there is no absolute general rule or formula used for calculating the loss of consortium damages. Doing so will typically require the help of a lawyer, who can assist in determining the amount of damage appropriate for the case.
Further, it is essential to mention that some states may set a cap or limit on non-economic damages, including loss of companionship and consortium. Such rules are subject to frequent change; you should check with a legal professional such as an attorney regarding the status of the laws in your area. It is also essential to mention that ultimately, it is up to the judge presiding over the case to decide the actual dollar amount of the remedy.
Do I Need to Talk to an Attorney About Loss of Consortium?
Filing for loss of consortium damages can be very complicated and challenging. If you need help with a personal injury claim, you may wish to speak with a personal injury lawyer for advice or representation in court. Since personal injury and tort laws vary by state, you may need an attorney’s expertise for your lawsuit.