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Understanding loss of consortium

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2021 | Firm News

The unanticipated loss of a loved one in Minnesota is no doubt devastating, yet its impact on you personally likely depends on the nature of your relationship with the decedent. It goes without saying that the degree of the loss you feel differs if they were your spouse as opposed to a close friend or family member.

Many come to us here at The Cody Law Group having lost a spouse saying that the emotional impact they feel far outweighs the financial one. You can likely attest to that fact after suffering such a loss. The question then becomes whether the law allows compensation to mitigate that impact.

Compensation for emotional losses

According to the Cornell Law School, “loss of consortium” refers to the emotional losses (such as the loss of affection or sexual intimacy) you experience when one with whom you share a close personal relationship suddenly dies. Compensation for this loss falls under the category of non-economic damages. These differ from economic damages in that the court can directly measure the former. One can directly prove what your loved one’s income was, and thus can measure the economic impact their loss causes. Non-economic damages are more difficult to measure, as they essentially try to quantify the value of the relationship you shared with the decedent.

Loss of consortium in Minnesota

Because of the potentially broad scope of non-economic damages, most states limit their availability. Indeed, state court rulings in Minnesota show that you can only press for damages for loss of consortium in a wrongful death lawsuit if the decedent was your spouse. Loss of consortium is a derivative claim, meaning you can only recover such damages if you secure a favorable ruling in your underlying wrongful death claim.