Chapter 9: Loss of Consortium How it Factors into Wrongful Death Cases

Loss of consortium is the loss related to relationships and family-based issues. Consortium is comprised of three categories including loss of services, loss of support, and loss of marital relationship.

Loss of services refers to the spouse losing the help around the house that the plaintiff participated in before their injury. This includes things such as cleaning, laundry, dishes, lawn mowing, and other household chores.

Loss of support is the amount of money that the deceased would have contributed to the household. It is separate from the lost wages of the plaintiff which are part of the economic damages. To estimate this amount, the judge or jury would consider how much annual income the deceased person generated before the accident and then estimate a reasonable life expectancy had they not died.

Loss of marital relationship relates to the love and emotional support that the spouse loses. In other words, it is the support, affection, companionship and other non-economic-based losses that the spouse suffers from the death of his or her loved one.

Damages for the loss of the relationship with the deceased are purely subjective. The strength of the person’s relationship right before death is extremely important. With surviving children, the age and the dependency on the deceased parent at the time of death are also very important factors. Younger children are usually more emotionally dependent on their parents so the damages for a younger child’s loss of relationship will usually be much greater than if the child were older and more mature.

The perception of the value related to the loss of a relationship is the perceived closeness between the claimant and the deceased. How strong was their relationship? How long had they known each other? What did they do together? How often did they talk and see each other? Did they work together or play together? Was the deceased taking care of the claimant’s needs as a caretaker or nurse? Was the deceased adept at listening to the claimant’s troubles and providing him or her with sound advice, and making his or her life easier?

If the claimant is a spouse, what was the quality of the marriage? If the claimant is a child, what was the quality of the parent-child relationship? All these questions are considered when it comes to evaluating the amount of damages recoverable for the loss of the relationship with the deceased.

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