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 in nature.
- Pain and suffering damages: Bodily and/or emotional harm caused by a personal injury; a type of non-economic damage.
- Punitive damages: A monetary award to a plaintiff for the purpose of punishing 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 injured 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.
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 that was caused because of the personal injury.
How is Loss of Consortium Measured?
To recover damages under the loss of consortium damages, a spouse has the burden to prove the value of the loss. Courts will then calculate the loss of consortium damages by considering a number of different factors:
- Stability of the marriage
- Life expectancy of both the husband and wife
- The nature and extent of the loss
- How much companionship the spouse received
- How much their marriage would be affected because of the injury to spouse
What are the Types of Loss of Consortium?
These damages typically 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 household. It is the same as lost wages that is given to the injured spouse. A jury calculates the loss of support amount by adding the wages the injured spouse:
- Would have made overall
- Would have contributed to the household
For example, an injured spouse known to give all of their income to the household would receive a larger award than someone who gave only a small percentage of their income to the household.
What is Loss of Services?
Loss of services refers to the value placed on work such as chores the spouse did in and around the house. Services can range from taking care of pets to mowing the lawn and making household repairs.
What is Loss of Quality?
Loss of quality refers to the marital relationship between the couple. It is the emotional part of the marriage that 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 advice
Who Can Recover Loss of Consortium Damages?
The person or persons that can recover loss of consortium damages depends on the applicable state law. Most loss of consortium cases involve a spouse of the injured party, they can also apply to a relationship between parents and children in some states.
In these cases, the child or parent would bring a claim stating that the injured parent or child is no longer able to provide the same level of care, fostering, and affection as he or she provided prior to the injury and the relationship was damaged because of the injury.
What are the Limitations to Loss of Consortium Damages?
Each state has set their own limitations on loss of consortium damages. In most states, if a spouse brings a claim the spouse must show that a valid marriage exists.
Also some states have set limitations and caps on how much you can recover from the insurance company per accident for loss of consortium damages.
Do I Need to Talk to an Attorney about Loss of Consortium?
Filing for loss of consortium damages can be very complex and difficult. If you need assistance with a personal injury claim, you may wish to speak with a personal injury lawyer for advice and/or representation in court. Since personal injury and tort laws vary by state, you may need the expertise of an attorney for your lawsuit.