Loss of Consortium Damages and Compensation

Loss of consortium damages are a particular action brought in tort by the family or relatives of a deceased or severely injured victim. The specific rules for loss of consortium damages and compensation for loss of consortium vary by jurisdiction.

What is Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium damages and compensation are damages that a family member experiences when he is deprived of a familial relationship. For example, if a man’s wife is killed in an accident, that man suffers because he no longer has the company of his wife. As such, he may have independent damages- damages separate from those his wife’s estate is entitled to. Those damages are monetary payments designed to compensate for, or make up the loss of his wife to him (as much as money can make up such a loss.)

Who Can Sue for Loss of Consortium

The rules of who can sue for loss of consortium damages and compensation vary by state. Some jurisdictions recognize the action only for married spouses. This means only a husband or a wife can sue, a parent, child or person in another familial relationship cannot recover this type of damage.

Loss of consortium damages of this type are referred to as spousal consortium; they are rooted in the old common law tradition that a husband had a property interest in his wife.

In other states, any family member can sue for loss of consortium, and the damages are based on the lost love and companionship of the family member. This means a parent could sue for the loss of his child, a child for the loss of a parent, or even siblings for their losses.

How to Sue

The specific rules for how to sue for loss of consortium damages and compensation also vary by state. In some locations, loss of consortium is just an element of a wrongful death claim. In other words, when a wrongful death settlement or jury verdict is being determined, the jury or judge will also add in monetary damages designed to compensate for the loss of consortium.

In other jurisdictions, a loss of consortium action can be brought as a separate legal action. This would mean someone could sue for loss of consortium even if their family member did not die; for example, if he became severely disabled.

Damage Awards

The amount of money awarded varies depending on the familial relationship, the state and the particular situation. Because the damages are awarded and determined on a case-by-case basis, stating average damage awards for loss of consortium is difficult and may not be representative of the damages a person can expect to recover.

Finding Legal Help

If you wish to sue for loss of consortium, or if you have suffered the loss of a family member and believe you may be entitled to recovery, you should speak with an experienced attorney who can assist you in understanding the types of potential loss of consortium compensation and damages available to you.

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