Wrongful death and severe personal injury cases are always heart wrenching for the families involved, but can be especially emotional when loss of consortium damages are being sought by the plaintiff. Loss of consortium is based on the emotional pain and long-term future suffering of a surviving spouse.
It’s Difficult to Put a Price on Mental Anguish
You can attribute a monetary value to some types of damages relatively easily using basic formulas. If a plaintiff had a job making $60,000 a year and would have worked for another 30 years had they not been injured, an attorney could potentially make a case for $1.8 million of lost future wages.
That’s an oversimplified example, but it shows that some types of damages can be calculated.
A person is much more than a salary and earning potential to the people who love them. The emotional pain of the surviving spouse needs to be considered when calculating damages.
But how do you put a dollar amount on a child having to grow up without a mother or father, or the enduring emotional hardship of wife or husband losing the love of their life due to an accident caused by someone else’s negligence?
A loss of consortium claim is essentially seeking compensation for the loss of things like:
• Love and affection
• Parental guidance
• Sexual relations
• Emotional and psychological support
These aren’t just legitimate losses in many personal injury and wrongful death cases – they often have the greatest impacts on the affected families. No amount of monetary compensation will eliminate the painful void left in the lives of the surviving spouse or children.
It should be noted that in the majority of Georgia cases, loss of consortium claims can only be brought by a spouse of the injured party or wrongful death victim.
How Can Something Unquantifiable Be Measured in Monetary Terms?
The answer is: it’s hard – and often seems impossible. Juries in Georgia personal injury courts, with guidance from the judge in the case, will have to come to their own determination of loss of consortium damages.
Part of the judge’s instructions to the jury will be to dispassionately analyze the state of the marriage prior to the injury or death and use their observations to inform their decision.
Making a Loss of Consortium Case
One of the difficulties for the plaintiff’s attorney in a loss of consortium case is proving the emotional impact of the spouse’s death or incapacitation. If members of the jury believe a marriage was already unstable when one of the spouses was injured or killed, they may be inclined to award less than they would if it were clear the death or severe impairment of a husband or wife was going to be a traumatic loss for surviving loved ones.
It’s up to the personal injury or wrongful death attorney to paint a compelling picture of a happy, supportive and intimate marriage in order to convince the jury that the loss is going to have a severe, lasting impact on the surviving spouse.
Loss of Consortium Isn’t Just About Sex
One of the oldest and most persistent assumptions about loss of consortium claims is the misguided belief that these cases are just about sex and physical intimacy. Distilling a loss of consortium case down to that one salacious aspect of a marriage is an unfair trivialization of what families are going through while they cope with the loss or injury of a loved one.
Consider some of the common, seemingly mundane aspects of a life that could be forever altered due to a wrongful death or personal injury:
• A couple is no longer able to talk or communicate, whether those communications were deep conversations about religion and philosophy or trivial, silly discussion about superhero movies or reality TV
• Neither spouse can find comfort or solace in the other during difficult times
• A husband or wife may be forced to become a full-time caregiver for the injured spouse and have to assist with everything from changing diapers and feeding to raising children alone and taking on all the duties of a household
• A family that used to love camping, hiking, boating, traveling, going to football games or any other pastime can no longer do those meaningful activities
Those are just a handful of examples of the emotional and psychological toll debilitating injuries or deaths can have on the family unit. There are countless other potential scenarios and sources for pain in loss of consortium cases.
Personal Injury, Wrongful Death and Loss of Consortium Attorney in Atlanta
If you or someone you know has recently lost a spouse due to a severe, debilitating injury or death caused by the negligence of another person, company or government entity, bringing a loss of consortium case in a Georgia personal injury court may be an appropriate course of action. If you have questions about personal injury cases or would like to speak with an experience trial attorney, call the Law Office of Johnny Phillips at (833) 564-6693.