What is Loss of Consortium?

By Peter DePaolis

Loss of consortium refers to a person’s claim for monetary damages when an injury to their spouse harms their relationship. Let’s say that your spouse got injured in a car collision that was someone else’s fault. Your spouse suffered spinal cord injuries which left them paralyzed from the neck down. A loss of consortium claim would seek financial compensation for the negative impact this injury had on your relationship with your spouse.

Virginia does not allow loss of consortium claims in personal injury cases. If your spouse dies, however, you might be able to recover monetary damages for loss of consortium in a wrongful death case. A Virginia personal injury attorney can explain how this legal concept would work in your situation and answer your questions about what loss of consortium is.

Definition of “Loss of Consortium”

Sometimes, people use the term loss of consortium to refer strictly to the ability to have sexual relationships with one’s spouse, but the term can mean much more. Think about what you would lose if your spouse suddenly disappeared. You might have lost your best friend, confidante, and soulmate. You might have relied on your spouse for brainstorming ideas and tackling life’s problems together.

You would also lose the companionship of a person with whom you used to go shopping, see a movie, go for hikes, eat at restaurants, travel, or enjoy a quiet evening at home. Loss of consortium can also refer to the distribution of household chores and raising the children.

Can You Recover Monetary Damages for Loss of Consortium in Virginia in a Personal Injury Case?

No. Virginia law does not place a financial value on any of those items as long as your spouse survives the accident. It does not matter if your spouse is no longer physically or mentally able to perform certain tasks like intimate relations or shouldering some of the labor within the home. If your spouse is physically present, you do not qualify for monetary damages for loss of consortium. 

Can You Recover Monetary Damages for Loss of Consortium in Virginia in a Wrongful Death Claim?

Yes, if your spouse dies because of someone else’s wrongful act, loss of consortium is one of the many recoverable types of compensation. In a wrongful death claim, the surviving spouse’s claim would be for loss of affection or loss of companionship, not loss of consortium because Virginia does not recognize loss of consortium claims.  

The parents or children of the person who died could also recover monetary damages for loss of affection or loss of companionship. Some of the other types of monetary damages in wrongful death claims in Virginia include the decedent’s last medical bills and the cost of the funeral and burial. The wrongful death claim could include the lost wages and pain and suffering of your deceased loved one, and their future loss of earnings. A Virginia personal injury attorney could help you seek compensation for your losses if your spouse suffered severe or fatal injuries in an accident that was someone else’s fault. You can reach out to us today for a free consultation.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.