After an accident caused by negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing takes the life of a loved one, the law allows families to recover economic damages, such as the costs of medical bills and funeral costs, with a wrongful death lawsuit. In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded as well, to provide additional compensation as well as discourage bad behavior on a societal level.
There is another form of damage that may be recovered, too, called non-economic damages. These are more difficult to quantify than economic damages, but no less important for families who are left devastated by a tragic and preventable death. One type of non-economic damage that comes up frequently (and is frequently misunderstood) in wrongful death cases is called “loss of consortium.”
Here’s what you need to know about loss of consortium, and what it means for you and your family.
What Loss of Consortium Means
In a wrongful death case, loss of consortium is about the relationship between the deceased and someone to whom he or she was close, such as a spouse. Filing a claim for loss of consortium as a spouse means asking for compensation due to the loss of companionship, love, affection, comfort, and intimate relations with a partner. These intangible items are sometimes called “society.” In a legal context, society means the mutual benefit that family members have with one another in the form of things like love, sharing, affection, care, mutual protection, and attention.
Loss of consortium isn’t only for spouses. Parents who have lost children may also be able to make a loss of consortium claim for the missing companionship and loss of society, as well. Similarly, children who have lost parents may also be able to claim loss of consortium damages for loss of society, including parental guidance, protection, support, love, and the other intangible (but very real) benefits that are lost when a parent has been killed.
Proving Loss of Consortium
Proving loss of consortium before a judge and jury can be an emotionally challenging process. The key factor in claiming this type of damage often relies on testimony about your relationship with your loved one. There are no “expert witnesses” or other specialists who are able to do this job better than the person who has suffered the most from the loss of a loved one. It’s a chance for your feelings to be heard in court. Though it may be difficult, this testimony is a chance for you to express your connections with the deceased to the court, and share the loss that you feel now that he or she is no longer with you.
Some people may find the idea of sharing testimony about the loss of a loved one to ask for financial compensation to be uncomfortable, and that’s unfortunate. The plain fact is, the law addresses this situation specifically as a way of providing some form of justice to those who have lost a loved one in a way that was preventable, but for the negligence or carelessness of another person. Since the law can’t turn back the clock and undo a senseless, needless tragedy, the law can only offer money as a salve for the indelible wound of the loss of a cherished spouse or child. You should never feel bad for asking for this type of compensation, because the law has determined that it is appropriate for you to do so—and it is your legal right.
Get Legal Help Today
If you have suffered from the loss of a loved one due to the negligence or recklessness of somebody else, you don’t have to face this alone. Wayne Wright LLP is here to help your family and stand up for your legal rights in a court of law. To speak to a legal professional about your situation, please call us by phone, use the contact form at the top of this page, or click the live chat box to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with us today.