Ochs Law Firm Blog

What Is Loss of Consortium?

sliver car and red car smashed their fronts together.

Words cannot express how the loss of a loved one affects their family. If your loved one has been in a serious car accident, you may have the right to be compensated for losing his or her companionship and support. In legal terms, “loss of consortium” refers to the emotional aspects of your relationship with the victim. A car injury attorney in Cheyenne, Wyoming or Casper, Wyoming can help you pursue compensation for loss of consortium.

What Is Loss of Consortium?

In the context of personal injury claims, “consortium,” means the companionship and support people receive from their spouses and parents. If you have lost a spouse, your loss of consortium can include the physical aspects of your relationship, the plans you had for enlarging your family, and the day to day support you provided for one another. In the case of losing a parent, loss of consortium can include the guidance and sense of security the victim provided.

When Can You Receive Compensation for Loss of Consortium?

Relatives of a car accident victim can pursue damages for loss of consortium when they have grounds to argue that the accident took away meaningful aspects of the relationship. Arguing for loss of consortium is often appropriate in these situations:

Wrongful Death

In addition to helping survivors of car crashes receive compensation for their losses, personal injury attorneys provide legal support to family members of people who were tragically killed in a crash. Claims and lawsuits submitted on behalf of the deceased fall into a separate category of personal injury practice called “wrongful death.”

Catastrophic Injury

Even if your loved one survived a car crash, they may have sustained serious injuries that will prevent them from resuming their job or family life in the same capacity. In that case, your losses include any aspects of your relationship which have been irreparably altered. For example, if your spouse suffered injuries preventing him or her from having children, you may be able to receive compensation for the loss of your ability to conceive together.

What Factors Go Into Loss of Consortium Cases?

In personal injury and wrongful death cases, plaintiffs can argue for two types of damages: specific (economic) and general. Specific damages are monetary losses, such as medical bills or lost wages. The value of specific damages is calculated by simply adding up the bills. General damages are losses that do not result in a bill, such as the loss of enjoyment of life or disfigurement.

Loss of consortium is considered a general loss. As with all general losses, the value of loss of consortium is up to the court to decide based on a reasonable sense of justice. When valuing an individual loss of consortium case involving a spouse, a court is likely to consider:

  • The overall health and stability of the marriage
  • Whether the partners were living together at the time of the accident
  • The non-monetary contributions the victim made to the marriage
  • The age of the partners involved
  • The physical health of the victim before the accident

Is Loss of Consortium Separate From the Victim’s Losses?

Yes. Loss of consortium concerns only the ways in which the accident affected the victim’s family members. In the case of wrongful death, the victim’s estate can pursue damages suffered by the victim himself or herself. Similarly, someone who has suffered non-fatal injuries in a car accident can submit a personal injury claim on their own or with the help of family members. These claims and lawsuits can proceed in tandem with any loss of consortium cases.

Types of damages that could be available for a deceased person’s estate or for the victim of a catastrophic injury include:

Medical Expenses

If the victim of the crash spent time in the hospital or received medical treatment of any kind, they could be eligible to receive compensation for their medical expenses. Catastrophic injuries often leave people facing a lifetime of treatments, in which case, it may be possible to include future medical expenses in the settlement.

Funeral Expenses

When someone is tragically killed in an accident, their family members often face costly funeral expenses in addition to a lengthy grieving process. If you are pursuing a wrongful death case on behalf of a relative, you may be able to add the deceased’s funeral costs to your claim.

Lost Wages or Lost Earning Capacity

The economic toll an accident takes is especially serious when the injured person must stay home from work to recover. If the recovery period is temporary, the victim of the crash can claim compensation for lost wages. If the injuries are serious enough to cause permanent disability, he or she may be able to claim reduced earning capacity. In the case of catastrophic injury or wrongful death, it is often possible to secure compensation for lost earning capacity.

Pain and Suffering

Watching a loved one struggle with the pain of a serious injury is devastating. While financial compensation can not provide true relief from the distress, physical discomfort can be listed on a claim as “pain and suffering.”

Emotional Distress

Given all of the difficulties one has to deal with after an accident occurs, it is no surprise that emotional distress is in its own category of damages. Victims of a crash might find themselves coping with anxiety, needing to adjust to living with an altered appearance, or mourning the loss of activities they once enjoyed. All of these difficulties factor into the victim’s “general damages,” or damages that are subjective in nature.

Property Loss

Apart from personal injury or wrongful death, car accidents usually cause significant damage to property. Compensation for property loss should include reimbursement for damage to the victim’s vehicle and any valuable items that were inside the car at the time of the crash. Items that are commonly claimed after a car crash include laptops and cell phones.

How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Wyoming

Wrongful death claims usually involve substantial losses, and the first step is to speak with an attorney who can help you make sure your loved one’s estate receives all the compensation it deserves. In Wyoming, only the deceased’s “wrongful death representative” may file the claim. You can apply to be the representative in the county where the deceased lived, died, or experienced the fatal accident.

The wrongful death claim is intended to recover losses to which the victim would be entitled to if the accident had not been fatal. After the representative successfully files a wrongful death claim, the payout is divided amount the deceased’s beneficiaries. Any portion of the payout that is allocated for loss of consortium is sent to the relative for which it is intended.

Speak With a Car Injury Attorney in Cheyenne, Wyoming or Casper, Wyoming

The legal system provides a path to pursue compensation for loss of consortium and other damages after a tragic accident occurs. Securing a payout that is proportionate to the victim’s losses and the family’s hardship is an important step in the healing process. A qualified lawyer can can help you review your loved one’s damages and begin the process of pursuing compensation. To speak with a car injury attorney in Cheyenne, Wyoming or Casper, Wyoming, contact Ochs Law Firm, today.

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Our experienced Wyoming personal injury lawyer, Jason E. Ochs will fight to help you recover proper compensation in a class action, pharmaceutical, and medical cases throughout multiple states. Contact us today.

Jason E. Ochs

Jason began his legal career in 2002 with a national multi-district litigation law firm in Newport Beach, California. There he worked on a variety of high-profile, complex-litigation projects including pharmaceutical and medical-device litigation across the country.

The Ochs Law Firm epitomizes professionalism and commitment to all of our clients, regardless of the size of the case or the might of the Defendant. We practice in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and California in personal injury litigation, medical malpractice, defective products, class action lawsuits, Qui Tam lawsuits, litigation across multiple districts, bad faith insurance, and civil litigation.

We look forward to providing top quality service and representation for you and your family.