After an accident, there are several ways for victims to seek restitution, but the family members of the victims are also able to seek restitution of their own. Here, Douglas Lauenstein, explains a loss of consortium claim, and how it can affect the family of an accident victim.
Defining Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium, also known as loss of affection or companionship, is a claim for damages suffered—such as affection, love, companionship, comfort, nurturing or sexual relationship lost—as a result of an accident. These damages are often not awarded unless the direct victim of the accident either dies or suffers a severe injury, such as paralysis, amputation of a limb or appendage or incontinence.
Categorizing Loss of Consortium
In personal injury cases, losses are categorized into two groups: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages hold a specific monetary value, and include such things as medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages, or general damages, are less monetarily exact. As an exact dollar value cannot be inherently placed on loss of consortium, this type of loss falls under non-economic damages. Non-economic damages also include pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of society or reputation, among others.
Filing Loss of Consortium
In Maryland, a loss of consortium claim is filed jointly, by both spouses, at the same time as the individual action brought by the injured spouse against the negligent party. The Maryland court system does not recognize a loss of consortium claim filed by two unmarried cohabitants, nor does it recognize a loss of consortium claim brought jointly by a parent and child: while the precedent for both of these examples exists in other state judicial systems, Maryland has not expanded the historical definition of loss of consortium.
Receiving Compensation for Loss of Consortium
Maryland caps the amount of compensation one can receive for non-economic damages in a personal injury claim. As of 2017, the cap is $830,000, and the cap increases slightly by $15,000 each year. In order to successfully prove loss of consortium, it will need to be proven that the two individuals were in a legally recognized union, that the union was stable and loving, that the injury or death caused severe and irreparable damage, and that this damage has and will continue to negatively affect the relationship.
Douglas Lauenstein Law Can Help Defend Your Rights in Court
We sometimes forget that accidents do not only harm their direct victims—those who lose the love and companionship of a spouse are just as affected. At Lauenstein Law Firm, we believe spouses deserve compensation for this tragic loss. If your spouse was severely injured or died in an accident, contact us to help you file a loss of consortium claim. For more information, or a free consultation, we urge you to contact us today.