Loss of consortium claims in Washington State focus on the disruption of a family’s relationship or activities due to an injury or death of a loved one. At the core of this claim is the assertion that the injuries sustained by a beloved family member have impeded the intimacy, love, and presence that were formerly interchanged among close family relations.
In this article, we will go over what loss of consortium is, as well as how damages of loss of consortium are assessed.
Washington’s Loss of Consortium Attorneys
The loss of consortium claim is a difficult one to understand. It is important, as a claimant, to understand whether or not you can use this claim in your wrongful death case – and, most importantly, how you must speak in your deposition to prove the loss of consortium. There are different forms of loss of consortium, including husband and wife, parent and child, etc. If you have lost a loved one or your relationship has been harmed because of a catastrophic injury, contact a personal injury attorney right away to explore your options – and see if your case qualifies for a loss of consortium claim.
What is Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium is more than just a relationship between husband and wife or parent and child. It can also include spouses and children. These claims focus on the disruption of the relationship or a family’s activities due to the injury or death of a loved one. It is most often associated with a spouse’s loss of physical intimacy – such as the ability to have sexual relations. But, this is not the sole basis for a loss of consortium claim.
Husband and Wife Claims
This is the most common type of loss of consortium claim, and the one that plaintiffs are most familiar with. Washington Supreme Court in 1980 decided that either spouse can seek compensation for a loss of consortium when the other is injured due to negligence by the defense (Lungren v. Whitney’s Inc.). The individual making the claim of loss of consortium must be married to the injured or deceased spouse at the time when he or she makes the claim; therefore, an ex-spouse could not qualify for this claim, even if the injury occurred while they were married, and then divorced post-accident.
Parent and Child
These cases are not as familiar but qualify under the law. In 1984, Washington State Supreme Court in Veland v. Pengo Hydra-Pull Corp decided that adult and minor children have the right to recover any loss of parental consortium. The law also recognizes the importance of loss of consortium for the parent-child relationship. This legislature is found in Washington Revised Code RCW 4.22.020 – which allows children to file claims for being deprived of their parent’s love, relationship, care, and even guidance. Also, the reverse applies – allowing parents to file a claim for the loss of their love and companionship with their child (RCW 4.24.11).
How Are Damages Assessed?
In these types of claims, damages are hard to compute – because there is not a specific calculation in losses. These claims are part of the non-economic damages that you would seek in your injury or wrongful death claim. If the injured or deceased provided a service that you will now have to pay someone to do, then the courts may allow damages to be paid for that loss. For example, if your spouse used to mow the lawn, and now you must hire a lawn service.
It is important to note, however, that insurance companies will do what they can to fight loss of consortium claims. This is because it is hard to prove that loss of consortium really occurred, or quantify how much a person deserves for this type of loss. When seeking damages for a loss of consortium claim, your attorney will need to ask you about your intimacy, relationship, and how everything has changed after the accident or death. While these questions may feel uncomfortable, realize that they will also be asked in a deposition – and you must answer truthfully to prove that you have a valid loss of consortium claim.
Speak with an Attorney Today
If you have lost a loved one and feel that you qualify for a loss of consortium claim as part of your wrongful death suit, speak with the attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC today. Our personal injury lawyers in Washington can assist you with your claim and help explore your options for compensation. Start with a free consultation by calling us at 800-925-1875, or fill out our online contact form with your questions.