How to Prove Loss of Consortium in a Car Accident Claim
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 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. Read on to learn about proving loss of consortium in a car accident claim.
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 (also called "loss of affection" and "loss of companionship") 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, companionship, parenting, care, or sexual relationship, his or her spouse, child, or parent can recover damages for the loss of consortium.
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 expectancy
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.
Moreover, Adam can no longer help Carol with household chores, which was his job while Carol went to work. Most importantly, Adam can no longer provide the same love, affection, companionship, and sexual relationship he had before the accident. In this situation, Adam would be able to recover damages for his fractured spine from Bob's insurance company, and Carol can claim damages for the loss of consortium from Bob or his insurance company as well.
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 $350,000 or three times the amount of economic damages, whichever is greater. If your spouse was injured in a car accident, you cannot recover more than $350,000 for the loss of consortium in Ohio.
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.
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Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.