After a Car Crash, How Do I Prove Loss of Consortium in Arizona?
A car crash doesn’t always just physically hurt the people involved; it can psychologically damage family members who love them. Arizona has what’s known as a loss of consortium law to compensate spouses, parents, and children of people who are killed or maimed as a result of someone else’s negligence.
Who Can Sue for Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium is also known as loss of affection and loss of companionship, which begins to explain what it covers. When a loved one dies or becomes disabled in a car crash, their surviving family members can no longer enjoy their company in the same way. The law also recognizes that a person who is killed or permanently injured can no longer provide the same support and care.
Loss of consortium laws are meant to compensate for these considerations. Spouses, children, and parents may seek damages under loss of consortium in Arizona.
Consider a young family. Wife and mother, Jill, is driving home from work one day when an oncoming distracted driver is looking at his cell phone instead of the road. He runs head-on into Jill’s car, and she breaks her neck in the crash. Jill survives, but she will spend the rest of her life as a quadriplegic with brain damage.
In addition to seeking damages to cover Jill’s medical treatment and property damage, her husband Jack could seek damages under loss of consortium. Jill can no longer provide love and affection in the same way she could before the injury caused by another driver’s carelessness. The couple will no longer have the intimacy they enjoyed before the crash, and Jill won’t be able to help raise their son or pitch in with household chores.
How Is Loss of Consortium Evaluated?
States take different approaches to loss of consortium. In Arizona, it is typically used to compensate a spouse whose partner has suffered a severe, permanent, and disabling injury that impedes their ability to exchange care, comfort, and companionship. While it is usually spouses who claim loss of consortium, parents and children may also seek compensation.
While car repairs and medical bills are for specific dollar amounts, it is much harder to put a value on love. As such, loss of consortium is difficult to evaluate monetarily. It falls into the category of general damages, also known as non-economic damages. Arizona courts decide how much an injury interferes with a surviving crash victim’s ability to provide love and support when determining how much to award in damages. In cases involving a married couple, the court is likely to consider:
- The spouses’ life expectancies
- The spouses’ living arrangement
- Whether the marriage was stable and loving
Arizona will also consider other factors, such as evidence of domestic violence, to argue against a spouse’s claim for loss of consortium.
In cases involving children, the court may also consider the crash victim’s ability to provide guidance, discipline, and protection when determining whether to award loss of consortium damages and calculating the precise amount. Family members seeking damages under loss of consortium may present evidence of their loved one’s behavior before and after the accident to demonstrate the change in their ability to provide love and support.
A damage cap is a limit to the amount of compensation a victim can receive. Arizona prohibits placing caps on damages for personal injury or death, and the jury has complete authority to decide the amount awarded due to loss of consortium.
Seeking Legal Assistance
Loss of consortium suits, by their very nature, involve calculating the intangible effects of a crash. They are heart-rending to pursue, but they are designed to provide just compensation for families whose lives have been permanently upended by a negligent driver.
A professional, compassionate attorney can help you navigate these emotionally and legally challenging suits. If you believe your family could be compensated under loss of consortium, call us today for a free consultation. Our accident lawyers will work hard to get you what you deserve.