When it comes to losing a family member or loved one due to some type of negligence or another individual’s intentional acts, there are many damages that are experienced. There are often financial burdens placed on the family when it comes to paying for all the medical bills and any costs associated with the funeral and burial. Additionally, if the deceased was married or had children, a family is now feeling the direct impact of losing the income that was being brought into the home. Most significantly, a deep loss of affection and companionship will also be felt. This is known as loss of consortium.
What is Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium is a legal term that refers to the damages that are frequently suffered by the spouse or family members of a deceased individual. The individual who died as a result of negligence can no longer provide love, comfort, partnership, household assistance, or sexual relations because of someone else’s actions. While it can be difficult to put a number on this loss of consortium, the damages that are experienced by a spouse, children, or other close loved ones is very real.
How is Loss of Consortium Calculated?
The tricky part of filing a loss of consortium claim is that there is no easy way to put a monetary value on the losses that are experienced. Even more, no dollar amount will ever be able to replace the type of love, relationship, and companionship that has now been lost. When loss of consortium is filed in a wrongful death lawsuit, the court will typically first consider the following factors:
- Was the married couple in a relationship that was both stable and loving?
- Were the spouses currently living together?
- Did the couple have children or plan to have them?
- How much did the deceased individual contribute to the home life? (Example: helping with house work, taking children to activities, etc.)
- Was the couple intimate with one another?
- What was the life expectancy of the deceased individual?
Once it has been proven that a loving and committed relationship was in place, the process of putting a monetary value on these noneconomic damages begins. Since this can be a delicate area, it is imperative to have an experienced attorney assist you throughout the process.
An important detail to keep in consideration when filing a loss of consortium claim is that intimate aspects of a marriage or relationship will have to be discussed during the process. There will be difficult questions asked. Nearly every aspect of the relationship will be analyzed, including private details. Any hardships or infidelities will be discussed in front of the judge and jury. If you are uncomfortable with any of this, then you may want to reconsider your options.
How are Damages Recovered?
When it comes to loss of consortium, each state has its own laws and regulations on damage caps. In the state of Pennsylvania, the law stipulates that a spouse is eligible to receive compensation for the loss of services and companionship as a result of the wrongful death. Additionally, in certain situations, children may also be eligible to file for loss of consortium. Regardless of the circumstances and who is filing the claim, Pennsylvania state law does enforce a two-year statute of limitations. After this time, family members are no longer able to seek financial compensation for the losses incurred.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death Claim?
Before you are able to file a loss of consortium claim, it must first be established that wrongful death did in fact transpire. Wrongful death occurs when an individual suffers from fatal injuries due to someone else’s negligence or intentional acts. Common instances of wrongful death include:
- Automobile accidents (this includes death caused by drunk, distracted, or aggressive driving)
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability
- Workplace accidents
- Intentional / criminal acts
Filing a loss of consortium claim as part of a medical malpractice lawsuit can be an intricate matter. Since this type of loss is not as black and white, it takes an experienced wrongful death attorney to build a strong case to receive the damages you deserve.
The attorneys at Ross Feller Casey are highly skilled at handling wrongful death and loss of consortium cases. In fact, the law firm has a track record of securing landmark settlements, earning over $1 billion total in recoveries for various personal injury cases. Contact Ross Feller Casey to learn more about your options regarding filing a loss of consortium claim.