If your spouse, child, parent, sibling or other close relative dies in Ohio due to someone’s negligence or wrongdoing, you can sue that person for the wrongful death of your loved one. Unlike a criminal prosecution where the wrongdoer can go to prison if the jury convicts him or her, a wrongful death suit represents a civil action in which the only thing you can recover is money damages.
You can, however, recover two types of money damages in a wrongful death suit: economic and noneconomic. Loss of consortium represents one of your noneconomic damages, i.e., a monetary loss on which you cannot place a precise value.
Defining loss of consortium
The concept of loss of consortium originally applied to a surviving spouse’s loss of sexual relations with his or her spouse. Today, however, the term has expanded to include such things as the loss of a close family member’s love, companionship, guidance, financial and personal help, etc.
Proving loss of consortium
Given that neither you nor the judge or jury in your wrongful death suit will be able to place a precise dollar amount on your consortium loss, you should prepare yourself to present clear and convincing evidence as to the following:
- Your loved one’s age and life expectancy at the time (s)he died
- Your own current age and life expectancy
- The nature and amount of companionship, love, guidance, etc. that your deceased loved one provided to you
- The nature and amount of financial, personal and household help that your deceased loved one provided to you
- If applicable, the nature and amount of parenting help your deceased loved one provided to you
Whatever dollar amount the jury decides to place on your loss of consortium and other noneconomic damages, naturally no amount of money will make up for the loss of your loved one. Nevertheless, sometimes winning a wrongful death case may provide you with closure, as well as a sense of justice.