In the event of the death of a loved one due to the negligence of a third party, the law in many states allows a qualifying party (such as a spouse or a child, depending upon the laws of the particular state) to pursue a settlement as compensation for loss of future income and remuneration for associated medical expenses.
While these provisions can be of great assistance after the loss of a parent or spouse, most acknowledge their loved one’s contribution to the family went far beyond the paycheck they provided. The loss of a spouse or parent has significant long-term effects on the emotional health of the family. Family members may need grief counseling or other support services to cope with the loss. The household roles of the departed, now unfulfilled, may cause significant distress as the family unit learns to adjust to life without them.
Fortunately, in Georgia and other states, the legal code supports the idea that the deceased, in their life, provided intangibles that cannot be replaced after their departure. The legal term for this acknowledgement is called Loss of Consortium.
Loss of Consortium refers to the loss of comfort, companionship and in the case of a deceased spouse, the loss of the intimate physical benefits inherent in the relationship. In states where the law recognizes the children of the deceased, this extends to the moral and educational guidance experienced in the parent-child relationship, the security of which fosters the child’s normal development into adulthood. In some states, parents of deceased children can similarly claim Loss of Consortium with regards to the benefits of the parent-child relationship.
The law in Georgia and in some other states recognizes the profound effect of the loss, and gives affected parties the means to claim these losses separately from the more tangible losses experienced (such as loss of financial support).
One key element in Loss of Consortium claims is the time period for pursuing the claim. In the State of Georgia, Loss of Consortium claims must be filed within four years after the “right of action accrues” (more simply, within four years after the date when one can rightfully sue).* For this reason, limitations on claims for loss of consortium may well extend beyond the statute of limitations for claims for the injury itself.
Because of the differences in definition and limitation for separate claims, it is important to consult with an injury attorney promptly. With the help of counsel, you can fully understand the options available, and formulate a strategy that will result in the most benefits, in the most expedient manner possible.
While the loss of a loved one can never be completely compensated by a settlement, the security provided by a thoughtfully executed plan can free a family from financial concerns and allow the focus to remain on finding closure and restoring a sense of security.
*Currently as of the writing of this article the statute of limitations is four years. If you have a loss of consortium claim, you should speak immediately with an injury attorney for up to date information on the statute of limitations, as the laws are always changing.
Ty Wilson is a personal injury attorney in Georgia and is dedicated to helping injured people and their families. Call his office today at 866-937-5454 to order his free book, 10 Secrets of Georgia Car Wreck Claims. This book is intended to give you and/or your loved one a solid foundation regarding Georgia auto accident claims, how to hire an attorney, and how to deal with the insurance company prior to speaking with an attorney.