When a loved one passes or is gravely injured, the effects on family members can be detrimental in numerous ways. Despite the emotionally exhaustive grieving process the affected families undoubtedly go through, there are often practical matters that require attention as well. If the death or injury of a loved one was caused by the wrongful, negligent, or intentional actions of another, family members may choose to proceed with a civil lawsuit. In particular, the family of an individual who was harmed in this manner could sue for loss of consortium.
Loss of consortium refers to the deprivation of a family relationship, including affection and sexual relations, due to injuries caused by the tortfeasor (a person who commits an act or omission that causes injury or harm to another) in a personal injury or wrongful death case. Damages in a loss of consortium case could include a loss of: companionship and social discourse, emotional and mental support, love and affection, basic home services (household chores, providing for children, etc.), and love and comfort. These damages can take the form of a financial award, but only in the event a civil lawsuit against the tortfeaser is filed.
In terms of compensation, loss of consortium is considered a kind of "general damages", which are non-economic in nature. As it is difficult to put a price tag on such losses, loss of consortium is often a substitute for plaintiff's damages and the court has a large role to play in determining the compensation amount awarded. In cases where the family member making the claim relied heavily on the injured or deceased individual for financial support, an expert witness could be called to assign a dollar amount to the financial loss.
Unsure if a loss of consortium claim fits your situation? Contact Smiley & Smiley, LLP today!