What is Loss of Consortium?

Generally, when a family member is injured or killed in an accident, the injured person’s family may be able to recover damages for “loss of consortium.” Such a claim would be filed against the at-fault party or defendant by the victim’s family. But what is loss of consortium?

When someone has been injured or killed in an accident, loss of consortium refers to a claim for damages filed by the plaintiff’s spouse or family member. This claim for damages arises out of the defendant’s wrongful acts, whether they were negligent or intentional.

Why do family members have a right to file a claim for damages? It’s because their lives are directly affected by the accident. For example, suppose a 25-year-old man was paralyzed from the waist down after being hit by a drunk driver. Because of the accident, he’d no longer be able to be intimate with his wife and they would never be able to have children of their own.

Or, suppose a mother of three was killed in a freak amusement park accident. Her three young children would be denied a mother. They would never have her love, comfort and companionship again. In another example, a loving father of two boys is killed when he is struck by a vehicle while enjoying a Saturday morning bike ride. Since his wife and two children were denied his companionship, affection and comfort, they may be able to seek damages for “loss of consortium.”

Loss of Consortium: A Form of General Damages

Loss of consortium falls under the category of general damages, which are “non-economic damages.” Economic damages would include medical bills, loss of income, property damage (e.g. damage to a vehicle), and loss of future income. In contrast, non-economic damages include: emotional distress, physical suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, physical impairment and – loss of consortium.

Historically, only a spouse could file a claim for loss of consortium, but some states permit children or parents to file a claim for loss of consortium. For instance, if a child filed such a claim, he or she would argue that because of their parent’s injuries or fatality, the parent is no longer able to provide the same level of affection, nurturing or care.

To learn more about loss of consortium in South Carolina and whether you’re entitled to file a claim, contact the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC for a free consultation.

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