A Loss of Consortium claim is filed in a personal injury or wrongful death situation by the affected family member(s) for the loss of a spouse, partner (in most states), child or parent. The Loss of Consortium claim is to compensate the spouse or family member of the person who was injured or killed as the result of a negligent or criminal act by the defendant. The key element in the case is that the wrongful act has had a debilitating effect on the person filing the claim such as loss of love, companionship, affection or sexual relations. A claim of this nature is a type of harm which falls under the category of General damages meaning they are losses of which money is a rough substitute. Since the monetary award is difficult to assess, it is usually left to the judge or jury to specify the amount.
The first thing to consider when beginning a claim of Loss of Consortium, is the laws in your state regarding the length of time in which you can file your suit. If it is a case involving a spouse, there will be rigorous questioning about the private aspects of the marriage. Was there spousal abuse, infidelity, separations, criminal activity and personal questions of a sexual nature. If it involves the loss of a child, there will be a check of hospital records to determine if there were any reports of child abuse or inappropriate behavior. If a child brings the suit due to loss of a parent, there will be a background check to assess the parent-child relationship. Your lawyer will be invaluable to you in preparing for your case.
The Job of Your Attorney
Loss of Consortium is available to family members of a person injured or killed by the wrongful acts of another. It should be claimed on behalf of all members in the case of death; spouse, parent or child. It is the responsibility of your attorney to make the hard decision to make the claim. In most severe injury cases it is wise to include Loss of Consortium in any pre-trial discussions. In some insurance claims this is included in a "single injury" limit in the contract. Your lawyer will get a copy and ascertain whether the injuries will exceed the policy amount or come up short, in which case filing the Loss of Consortium claim will enable the client to collect the full amount. Even after filing the claim your lawyer will want to go over the challenges presented. The client must focus on the pain and loss associated with the family unit and not on themselves. Your lawyer must present it this way to get the jury's sympathy and your maximum amount for your claim.
Loss of Consortium cases are not only traumatic for the family, but for the lawyers as well. They are dealing with a family that has been devastated by tragedy and in the retelling of the story they become intimately involved as well. They listen at length to how this has affected every aspect of the family life and damaged the infrastructure of their home. They must focus on the testimony to be given and hear about a spouse's undying love for their partner who is either now deceased or critically injured and cannot care for themselves or partake in family activities. They have to hear of the love for a child that will never walk or talk again and is fed through tubes-the child that was so great at all sports and had big dreams. They will do their best to win your case to show how very sorry they are for your tragedy, and try to ease some of the burden.