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Defining loss of consortium

When people die in Quincy, the impact of their death is often felt far beyond their mere absence. In many cases, one may have been looked to as a provider for a spouse and/or children. The potential compensation available through a wrongful death lawsuit (if negligence is believed to have contributed to one’s death) is meant to help lessen the impact of that loss. In the case of the deceased’s financial contribution to his or her dependents, that number may be easily quantifiable. However, how does one determine the costs of compensating for the emotional void a person leaves behind?

The legal principle meant to allow for non-injury compensation following the death of a loved one is known as loss of consortium. The Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School defines this as the “deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship.” Many often question whether one can seek damages for loss of consortium or companionship in a wrongful death lawsuit. Massachusetts state law is very clear in this regard. It lists the reasons for which one can pursue a wrongful death claim to include the loss of:

  •          Society
  •          Companionship
  •          Comfort
  •          Guidance
  •          Council
  •          Advice

While the legal definition of loss of consortium seems to limit this privilege to surviving spouses, some states have extended the benefit to other family members. Massachusetts ranks among these. According to Chapter 229, Section 1 of the state’s General Laws, wrongful death benefits can be shared by a deceased’s spouse and his or her children. In cases where there is no surviving spouse or children, then benefits may be awarded to the next of kin. However, in determining loss of consortium benefits, the court may limit the amount awarded based upon the beneficiary’s relationship with the deceased. 

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Giarrusso Norton Cooley & McGlone, P.C.
Marina Bay
308 Victory Road
Quincy, MA 02171

Phone: 617-770-2900
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