DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF CONSORTIUM
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
In prior blogs I discussed different types of damages recoverable for injury or harm caused by negligent or reckless conduct, as well as different components of damages, including damages for economic and non-economic compensation for injuries. In addition to these damages designed to compensate the injured person, Connecticut also permits recovery for loss of consortium damages by the spouse or child of someone injured by the negligent or reckless conduct of another. Thus, where a judge or jury makes an award of damages on behalf of a plaintiff who seeks damages for injuries, or the estate of a decedent that recovers such damages, the spouse or child can also recover damages for loss of consortium.
Loss of consortium damages for a spouse are defined as damages for the loss of services such as assistance and helpfulness; financial support; and intangibles such as companionship, affection, sharing, and aid that exists between spouses living together in marriage including companionship and conjugal affection of the other.
Loss of parental consortium damages are allowed as an element of damages on behalf of a minor child resulting from a parent’s injury during the parent’s life. Loss of parental consortium damages consist of the loss a parent’s services to the child, as well as the intangibles such as a parent’s love, care, guidance, and the mental anguish and injured feelings of the child.
Damages for loss of consortium are measured by the extent of the loss incurred, the severity of the injury to the spouse or parent, and the effect on the relationship. These type of damages are, by their very nature, intangible and difficult to measure. They can result in awards that are at times nominal, and at other times extraordinary. In Ashmore v. Hartford Hospital, the Connecticut Supreme Court recently reversed an award of damages for spousal loss of consortium where the award to the surviving spouse greatly exceeded the damage award to the estate of the deceased spouse. In reversing the award, the Supreme Court opined that in the absence of unusual circumstances, a loss of consortium award ordinarily should not exceed the corresponding wrongful death award to the estate of the injured spouse. Ashmore involved a non-economic damages award of 1.2 million dollars to the estate of the decedent, and a corresponding 4.5 million dollar award to the surviving spouse for loss of consortium. Ashmore sets a new playing field for presenting evidence of loss of consortium in situations where such damages are recoverable. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries as a result of the negligent or reckless conduct of another, you should consult with an attorney to adequately protect your rights.
READ MORE: DAMAGES: COMPENSATORY VERSUS PUNITIVE