What Is Loss of Consortium?

A man in sickbed and a woman looks worried
A man lying in sickbed and his wife prays for him.

Loss of consortium is the legal term used to describe the loss of love, intimacy, companionship, affection, care, protection and assistance between spouses as a result of a personal injury. The spouses of people who suffer injury or death due to another’s negligent actions in Illinois may be entitled to recover damages for loss of consortium.

A Loss of Spousal Benefits

The court may award loss of consortium damages when people suffer fatal injuries or injuries so severe that they impact the lives of their spouses. Those injuries which may have a significant impact on people’s quality of life due to the limitations they cause or the ongoing care they require, such as paralysis, dismemberment, or coma, may qualify for loss of consortium claims.

Quantifying Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium involves non-economic and economic damages, which can be difficult to quantify. The factors that may contribute to measuring a spouse’s losses due to his or her partner’s injury include:

  • The couple’s plans and their ability or lack of ability to implement them post-injury
  • The quality of the couple’s marriage prior to the injury
  • The couple’s history of infidelity, separation, divorce filings, or domestic violence
  • The couple’s living arrangements before the injury

In addition to these intangible losses, loss of consortium damages may also include compensation for the loss of financial support, the loss of future inheritance, and the loss of household services provided by the plaintiffs’ injured or deceased spouses.

Proving Loss of Consortium

To successfully recover compensation for loss of consortium in Illinois, people must show they were in a lawful marriage with the injured party at the time of the injury. Further, they must show their spouses suffered tortious injury as a direct result of the defendant’s conduct and that they themselves suffered damages as a result of their spouses’ injuries. The damages people may suffer as a result of their spouses’ accidental injuries or deaths include physical pain and suffering, humiliation or loss of reputation, emotional distress, shock or mental anguish. Although monetary compensation cannot make up for people’s losses, loss of consortium damages aims to help provide them with some financial relief.