One day, you get a call from a hospital informing you that your spouse was in a major car accident. You get to the hospital to find your spouse in a coma. In addition to feeling devastated, you're suffering from losing your spouse's support and care. If the other driver was negligent, you may be able to receive compensation for the loss of companionship and affection.
What Is Loss of Consortium?
Unlike other types of car accident claims, loss of consortium is brought by a close family member of the accident victim (a spouse, parent, or child). Although most loss of consortium cases involve a spouse of the injured party, they can also apply to a relationship between parents and children in some cases.
Loss of consortium refers to the deprivation of the benefits of married life or parenting, such as the ability to show affection after an accident or injury. The injured party must have sustained serious injuries or died as the result of a car accident. If the injured party can no longer provide the same love, affection, or companionship, the injury victim's spouse, child, or parent can recover damages for the loss of consortium.
Loss of consortium can also be called "loss of affection" and "loss of companionship." for parents and children, claims can include the loss of parenting care. For spouses, loss of consortium also includes deprivation of their sexual relationship.
How To Prove Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is a form of noneconomic damages (also called general damages), which refers to intangible damages that are difficult to calculate in monetary values. There's no clear rule for calculating noneconomic damages. However, if the spouse of a car accident victim is claiming loss of consortium, the court will likely consider the following factors:
- Whether the marriage involved a stable, loving relationship
- The spouses' living arrangements
- How much care and companionship the spouse received
- The spouses' individual life expectancies
Here's a sample scenario: While Adam was driving home from work, he was hit by a truck. Bob was driving the truck, and the accident was caused by Bob's carelessness. As a result, Adam fractured his spine. Adam and Carol are newlyweds, and they were planning to have multiple children. Adam and Carol's sexual relationship and their plan to have kids have been affected by the accident.
Adam can no longer help Carol with household chores, which was his job while Carol went to work. Adam can no longer provide the same love, affection, companionship, and sexual relationship that he did before the accident. In this situation, Adam may be able to recover damages for his fractured spine from Bob's insurance company, and Carol could claim damages for the loss of consortium.
Limitations on Loss of Consortium
Some states have laws on damages caps, which are limits on the amount of damages you can recover. Several states impose damages caps on noneconomic damages, including the loss of consortium.
For example, Ohio limits noneconomic damages to the greater of $250,000 or three times the amount of economic damages, but not to exceed $350,000, unless there is permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb, or loss of a bodily organ system or permanent physical functional injury that permanently prevents the injured person from being able to independently care for themselves and perform life-sustaining activities.
Thus, if your spouse was injured in a car accident and you did not sustain any personal injuries or economic damages yourself, you cannot recover more than $250,000 for the loss of consortium in Ohio.
Check your state's laws on damages cap, statutes of limitations, and rules of evidence to ensure there's no limitation preventing you from bringing a loss of consortium claim.
Get Professional Legal Help With Your Loss of Consortium Claim
Claims for loss of consortium will differ case by case, so it's important to get professional help from someone who has worked on these types of cases in the past and understands how to present your claim in the most favorable light. If your loved one has been injured in a car accident, you may want to contact a motor vehicle accident attorney for assistance.