Can I Recover for Loss of Consortium in a Car Accident Claim?
Most car accident claims are brought by the injured party against the at-fault driver for property damage, medical care and pain and suffering. When a person’s spouse, parent or child is severely injured in a car accident the individual may suffer the loss of affection, intimacy, companionship, support and care that their immediate family member is no longer able to provide. When a family member loses these comforts as a result of a loved one’s injury or death in an accident, it is called “loss of consortium.” If the driver who caused the car accident was negligent – distracted driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or street racing, for example – the close family member may be able to receive monetary compensation for loss of consortium. Note that most loss of consortium cases are brought by a spouse but children and parents who experience this type of loss may be able to recover damages in certain cases.
How are loss of consortium damages calculated?
Like in all personal injury claims, car accident claims seek recovery for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include items such as lost wages and medical bills that can be calculated with hard numbers. Non-economic damages are intangible damages that include pain and suffering and loss of consortium. It is much more difficult for the court to assign a value to non-economic damages but they will usually consider the following factors:
- The family’s/couple’s lifestyle and future plans
- The stability and love present in the marriage prior to the accident
- What kind/how much care and companionship the spouse was accustomed to receiving
- The spouse’s individual life expectancy
The limits placed on loss of consortium settlements
Like every state, Washington State has laws that apply to personal injury damages, including:
- Damage caps that limit the amount of damages the injured party is allowed to recover.
- Statute of limitations that limits the timeframe a personal injury claim may be brought after an accident.
- Strict stipulations about punitive damages.
If your loved one was seriously injured in a car accident through no fault of their own and you are now suffering loss of consortium, it is in your interest to speak to a local, experienced car accident lawyer. He or she will be familiar with the personal injury laws in your state – including those for loss of consortium – and can discuss your legal rights and the value of your claim.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an injury as a result of an accident or error caused by the negligence of another, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!