Wrongful Death and Loss of Consortium

Apr 14, 2017 @ 09:00 AM — by Larry A. Tawwater

A woman holding a rose in front of a casketThe pain of losing a loved one can feel immeasurable, especially when the death occurred due to another person's negligence or misconduct. When a loved one has died as a result of someone else's negligence, there may be grounds for family members to file a wrongful death and loss of consortium claim. Although no amount of money can ease the pain of losing a loved one, compensation for emotional damages can help ease the financial burden left by the death of a family member. To learn more about your legal rights in wrongful death and loss of consortium claims, contact the Oklahoma City, OK attorneys of the Tawwater Law Firm, PLLC.

What Is Loss of Consortium?

Loss of consortium is a legal term that describes the loss of the benefits of a family relationship due to injury or death. In loss of consortium claims, a spouse, and in some cases a child or parent, may file a claim to seek damages for the wrongful death or injury of a loved one.

Determining Damages in a Loss of Consortium Claim

When determining damages in a wrongful death and loss of consortium claim, the courts will consider things that can no longer be provided by the deceased spouse or family member and take into account damages suffered by the surviving family member as a result of the death of a loved one. Loss of consortium damages are considered general damages as they are not financial in nature but rather account for intangible, emotional damages that have been sustained by the wrongful death of a family member. Accordingly, any sum paid for such damages are only a rough estimate made by the judge or jury to compensate for pain and suffering.

Some damages considered in loss of consortium claims include:

  • Loss of companionship
  • Shock
  • Loss of affection
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional pain
  • Humiliation or embarrassment
  • Loss of reputation
  • Emotional suffering

Who Can File a Loss of Consortium Claim?

Loss of consortium claims can only be filed by certain family members. Each state has its own laws regarding loss of consortium and who can file. Variance from state to state include allowing spouses to file a loss of consortium lawsuit, allowing same-sex couples to seek damages, or allowing those who are unmarried but in a long term relationship to file suit. Some states will allow parents to seek damages for the death of a child or a child to seek damages for the loss of a parent.

Spouses and Loss of Consortium

When filing a loss of consortium claim for the death of a spouse, most states will require the surviving spouse to prove in court that a valid marriage existed at the time of death. Proving a valid marriage may involve questions from the defense attorney that exposes private or intimate information. In marriages where infidelity, separation, or abuse was present, the surviving spouse should be prepared to discuss such sensitive information in court. Even without marital problems, this process can be emotionally taxing when grieving the death of a spouse so it is important to be aware of what is involved in seeking damages for loss of consortium.

Learn More about Your Legal Rights

To learn more about your legal rights, we urge you to contact our wrongful death attorneys today.

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