Injuries from medical malpractice affect more than their victims. They affect the victim’s family, too. It’s especially difficult for spouses/partners. They must face the reality that their loved one will never be the same again. Damages for loss of companionship can’t make a malpractice victim whole. But they can give a devastated partner some measure of recourse.
Damages In A Medical Malpractice Case
When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you can seek damages for different types of losses you suffer. They fall into two main categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages: You can put a monetary value on economic damages. For example, hospital or medical equipment expenses, lost wages, and lost future earnings.
- Non-economic damages: These do not have a specific, “countable” amount. They include pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of companionship/consortium.
Loss of consortium recognizes that a victim’s partner suffers right along with them. They deserve restitution for their suffering, too. If you are the spouse or partner of a malpractice victim, you should speak with a lawyer about the possibility of seeking this type of compensation.
What is Loss of Companionship/Consortium?
In some cases of medical malpractice, a patient ends up with a serious injury or dies. Two things may happen:
- The patient passes away. Their spouse or partner can no longer enjoy their company.
- The patient lives, but has a serious injury. Their ability to contribute to the relationship is diminished.
A partner can seek damages in both of those cases. Loss of companionship and loss of consortium are the legal terms for this type of compensation.
Of course, monetary damages for loss of companionship can’t bring loved ones back (or back to normal). They can’t fully restore the role a person once played in their partner’s life. But damages can help ease the pain. They can make life easier for a person dealing with major changes after losing their partner.
What Qualifies as Loss of Companionship?
If your partner was injured because of medical malpractice, you might wonder whether you’re “qualified” to make a loss of consortium claim.
The exact definition of loss of companionship varies by state. You should speak with a lawyer in your state to find out whether a court would consider your claim valid. In general, here’s what loss of companionship may cover:
- Loss of financial support from a spouse
- Your partner is unable to contribute to household duties, such as chores and errands
- You have children and now you are the sole caretaker
- Loss of intangible contributions, such as love, support and affection
- Impairment in sexual relations
- Loss of emotional intimacy (may result from brain damage or trauma)
Limitations For Loss Of Companionship
Losing a loved one’s company and support due to injury is a painful hit to take. Compensation can soften the blow, but you’ll need a lawyer’s help to “jump through the hoops” in order to win damages.
The good news is that all US states recognize losing companionship as a valid loss. However, there’s some bad news as well. Many states put a damage “cap” on non-economic damages that you can recover in a malpractice claim. Courts usually consider loss of companionship a non-economic type of damage. When that’s the case, your compensation may already reach the limit, even without claiming loss of consortium.
But laws are constantly changing. In addition, it’s sometimes possible to recover economic damages for the loss of your spouse’s financial support. Speak with your lawyer to find out what the damage cap is in your state, and what options you have for recovering the highest amount of damages possible.
Contact the lawyers at Hampton & King for up-to-date information about malpractice damage caps in Texas.
FAQs About Loss Of Consortium
Do you have to be married to claim loss of companionship/consortium?
In most states, yes. In other states, you don’t have to be legally married, but you have to show proof of a close, constant relationship with the victim.
Can you claim loss of consortium if your partner is living, but injured?
You can claim this loss whether your partner is living or deceased. But their injury must have had a significant impact on your relationship.
Is it common to make this claim in medical malpractice suits?
Loss of companionship comes up most often in wrongful death suits. A wrongful death suit seeks compensation when a patient dies because of a physician’s negligence.