If a loved one died due to the negligence of others, you may have a legal right to claim monetary payments for these damages with a wrongful death lawsuit. And if you’re a spouse of the deceased, you should know about loss of consortium, as part of a claim filed by your wrongful death attorney.
In legal terms loss of consortium traces back to English common law in the 14th Century. Essentially, loss of consortium refers to loss of the relationship’s benefits which someone suffered because a spouse was injured or killed due to the negligence of another person or party.
Consortium refers only to the relationship, association or fellowship between two people who are married, as in a husband and wife, or domestic partners. A loss of consortium claim seeks to compensate a surviving wife or husband who’s suffered the loss of a deceased spouse’s love and affection, sexual relations or the injured spouse due to the injury or injuries that create such damage that it greatly affects the marriage.
In Texas and in other states, loss of consortium means the surviving spouse should be able to recover damages and be compensated for things such as loss of companionship, loss of psychological support, loss of emotional support, loss of friendship, loss of affection, loss of sexual relations and loss of love.
These losses are non-economic costs based on a married couple’s relationship. They involve compensating a surviving husband or wife for loss of the spousal relationship as it was prior to when the wrongful death occurred, whether due to a car accident, defective drug, industrial accident defective medical device, dangerous workplace, medical malpractice or many other reasons.
Such benefits of a marital relationship are non-economic, so they go beyond strictly economic factors such as lost future salary, health insurance, pensions and other things. Such clear-cut financial setbacks are considered compensatory damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Compensatory damages and loss of consortium damages are separate and should not be confused with each other.
As for whether a non-spouse can claim LOC, in most states they cannot. Other family members such as the deceased person’s children or parents can take actions and make claims as part of a wrongful death lawsuit, but these will be a different type of loss of consortium damages that a spouse would be able to recover. In some states, love and affection are considered part of a special parental consortium, and children can recover for the death or disability of a parent, or vice versa. But in most cases, children or parents cannot claim loss of consortium, which is reserved for a surviving spouse.
However, they can claim payments based on other domestic losses due to their loved one’s death, such as loss of financial support. Also, though children and stepchildren cannot advance a legal claim for damages based on loss of consortium, they may be able to recover damages for loss of a parental relationship due to death or a severe, disabling injury.
Such damages can be given to compensate children of a deceased parent for losing the parent’s protection, companionship, affection, care and love. While these damages, like loss of consortium, also involve payments for a lost relationship, they are not known as loss of consortium. Rather, in a personal injury lawsuit, they may be regarded as compensation for a survivor’s pain and suffering.
Parents in Texas cannot recover for loss of companionship when a child or adult child dies, but they can recover money for their own wrongful death damages for the loss of their child.
Since same-sex marriage became legally available in the United States, courts have extended the right to a loss of consortium claim to spouses in same-sex marriages and other domestic partnerships.
Loss of consortium is a legal claim seeking payments for a spouse due to their losing a spousal relationship or in serious or catastrophic injury cases for the loss of relationship from an injured spouse. That is, a judge or jury can designate payments to help make up for the spouse losing the affection, sexual relationship and love that a deceased spouse might have provided if not for their wrongful death.
A wrongful death lawsuit brought by a surviving partner also can seek compensatory damages for direct financial costs. Loss of consortium claims can be part of such lawsuits.
A consortium loss claim as part of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit may be made with help from a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney.
As noted above, a loss of consortium claim can be made as part of a wrongful death lawsuit, which also may be known as a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury claim may focus solely on seeking payments for expenses and lost income based on a severe injury. But when the injury leads to death, the lawsuit is known as a wrongful death lawsuit, which is a form of personal injury lawsuits.
A loss of consortium claim can be part of a wrongful death lawsuit, although such lawsuits also may involve seeking compensatory damages for more direct financial costs, pain and suffering injuries, mental anguish and other non-economic damages along with loss of future salary, insurance, retirement and other workplace benefits due to the wrongful death.
You may be wondering how much money you can get for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium claims are calculated differently than compensatory damages, which can be objectively assessed, including noting a spouse’s salary at death and estimating what his or her life expectancy would have been.
By contrast, a court may award loss of consortium claims based on subjective values stemming from the marital relationship itself. While no amount of money can fully make up for a loved one’s death, a loss of consortium claim at least provides some compensation for the relationship’s loss.
There are no laws or regulations governing how much should be paid in such claims, and these amounts can vary widely. For example, some individuals have been awarded $1 million for a loss of consortium claim, but others may receive a small fraction of that amount.
A court can consider a number of factors in calculating the worth of a loss of consortium claim. These may include how active the couple’s romantic relationship, loss of the love affection and many other non-economic damages that can’t be calculated on paper. Loss of consortium for a surviving spouses or domestic partners is to what degree the victim had provided affection and emotional support.
Keep in mind that, in a successful wrongful death lawsuit, the payments probably will be made by the defendant’s insurance company, rather than by the individual.
A skilled, knowledgeable and experienced wrongful death attorney can help you to prove a loss of consortium claim and can emphasize things which maximize the benefits you may receive from the death of your spouse or damages to the injured spouse in catastrophic injury cases.
A wrongful death attorney or personal injury lawyer should provide persuasive evidence to prove that the couple whose relationship was cut short by a wrongful death had an intimate, supportive, loving and happy marriage.
Such evidence can help convince and persuade a jury that the end of the relationship — the loss of consortium — has and will continue to have a severe and lasting impact on a surviving husband or wife. How much that spouse is affected must be compensated along with more clear-cut financial costs.
The Willis Law Firm has provided legal services for many Americans over many decades to gain payments for their injury and death losses, and we can help you too. Contact us today to talk to Loss of consortium or wrongful death attorney about your case, and we’ll help you to size up your chances for a successful loss of consortium claim as part of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Depending on your state, the clock may be ticking on the amount of time you have to file such a claim for loss. In Texas law, in California law and in many other states’ laws, such statutes of limitations allow you to have two years from the time of a spouse’s wrongful death to register a loss of consortium claim. In others it is only one year from the date of the accident or death of one’s domestic partner or spouse.
But it’s important not to test that limit, and rather to act quickly. That way, your wrongful death lawyer has a better chance to investigate and gather evidence soon after a death. Also, the sooner you search for and engage legal help to launch a wrongful death lawsuit, the sooner you may be paid for your spouse’s death.
Contact us today to discuss your claim and get free legal advice, and let’s start seeking the payments — and justice — you deserve in a loss of consortium claim.
David P. Willis is a board certified personal injury trial lawyer. He has obtained superb results for his clients over the last 40 years. Call 1-800-883-9858 today to speak to him about your case.