When a couple marries in West Virginia or a set of spouses has a child, the expectation of an ongoing relationship exists. For spouses, this relationship not only includes companionship and affection but also physical intimacy as is integral to marriage. Many tragedies have occurred where severe injuries (some even fatal) caused by a third party’s negligence has impeded a married couple or a family’s ability to carry on the relationships that are consistent with their state of life. In legal terms, this is known as a loss of consortium.
Consider a married couple who wanted to have a child or more children than they already have. If a drunk driver hits one of the spouses, who then becomes paralyzed, they may lose any hope of conceiving children together through natural means. Aside from that, the couple’s entire lifestyle would change, and they may experience a loss of the daily companionship and interaction they once knew. This constitutes loss of consortium.
Loss of consortium does not only occur with spouses
Other close family members, as well, may experience loss of affection, companionship and interaction. For example, a parent experiences loss of consortium if a son or daughter suffers a catastrophic injury like paralysis. They may lose their dreams of sharing life events in the typical way parents and children normally do. This type of loss may also occur for a child whose parent has suffered injury because of another driver’s negligence.
The court takes several factors into account when deciding loss of consortium claims. In the case of a spouse, the court considers a couple’s relationship prior to injury. (If a couple was planning to divorce, for instance, it may be difficult to prove that a loss of consortium has occurred.) Life expectancy and other issues are relevant, as well.
Obtaining the maximum to which you have a right in a personal injury claim
When you file a personal injury claim in West Virginia, you must provide the court with a list of damages. Loss of consortium is often part of a general personal injury claim. Every state has its own laws and regulations regarding financial recovery for losses caused by third-party negligence.
Loss of consortium is what’s known as intangible damage. If you break your arm and receive treatment at a hospital, the court can easily assign a monetary value to the damages that occurred. It is difficult to place a monetary value on a human relationship. This is why it’s best to file a loss of consortium claim under experienced guidance to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation allowed under state law.