As a major logistics hub, St. Louis’ roads are often lined with gigantic 18-wheelers. These trucks and trailers transport cargo in and out of the city, operating all across the country. Sadly, the flip side is a rising number of road accidents, many involving a commercial truck.
A recent study ranked St. Louis among the most dangerous cities in the United States for reasons like high rates of homicides, natural disasters, and road accidents. Nothing could be more heart-wrenching than getting a call informing that one’s spouse was injured in a trucking accident.
Such accidents often lead to fatalities or gruesome injuries. Let’s take an example – suppose a woman is informed that her husband’s car was hit by a truck. As a result, he is in a coma due to traumatic brain injury. Besides the devastating news, she has to endure the loss of her husband’s care, love, and support.
Depending on the case’s circumstances, she may receive compensation for consortium damages. In this article, we will discuss this aspect of St. Louis trucking accidents.
Proving Loss of Consortium
The loss of consortium claim is one which a spouse may bring when their better half was involved in a deadly road accident. The purpose of this claim is to seek compensation for the lost marital benefits.
Listed below are some examples of consortium damages –
- The claimant enjoyed peaceful evening walks with their spouse but no longer can.
- The claimant may never be able to engage in sexual relations with their spouse.
- The victim suffered such severe brain damage that they no longer recognize the claimant.
- The claimant cherished deep conversations with the victim, but the two could no longer communicate.
- The victim is in such chronic pain that they cannot enjoy shared activities like jogging, traveling, sports, etc.
- The victim cannot perform domestic tasks like cleaning, parenting, cooking, etc.
- The victim is so disturbed that they cannot provide the claimant with love and encouragement that they previously would.
These are just a few of the different examples of consortium loss that a trucking accident in St. Louis may involve. As for proving the loss of consortium, the claimant needs to meet certain conditions. It is important to mention here that a loss of consortium claim is challenging to prove in court.
One major reason is that the court needs evidence of how loving the relationship between the victim and the claimant was. The following legal elements are involved in proving loss of consortium –
- The claimant must have been married at the time of the trucking accident.
- The victim must have suffered physical harm at the hands of the defendant.
- The claimant must have endured the actual loss of consortium (as defined by the above-mentioned examples).
- The defendant’s negligence should be directly responsible for the claimant’s consortium damages.
The state of Missouri only awards the loss of consortium compensation for catastrophic injuries. Also, since it is an intangible loss, securing fair compensation is often challenging.
The persuasiveness of a St. Louis trucking accident lawyer should make a meaningful difference in the valuation process. A reliable attorney will dig deep, gather all evidence, and make settlement negotiations wherever necessary.
Marriage vs. Other Domestic Relationships
Historically, a claim for consortium damages could only be made by the victim’s legal spouse. However, the state of Missouri has started recognizing this claim in the context of other domestic relationships due to changing social norms.
This means close family members and relatives of the victim may bring a loss of consortium claim. Trucking accidents are already complex, and the victim’s immediate relationship is that with their spouse. In the case of other family members, loss of consortium may be even more challenging to prove.
Claimants must proceed with the help of a reputed attorney. TorHoerman Law suggests seeking representation from a lawyer with the proper resources, commitment, and experience needed to handle complex cases. This decision can make a huge difference in receiving fair compensation.
Consortium Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
As per the law of the state of Missouri, consortium damages claim applies even in cases where a spouse dies in an accident. If a loved one succumbs to their injuries, their spouse and surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Given the nature of this lawsuit, the court will compensate the plaintiffs for economic damages like loss of income and funeral expenses. However, room will be made for non-economic damages as well, including the loss of companionship, support, and love.
The exact amount will depend upon the following factors –
- How stable and loving the relationship was
- The living arrangements of the victim with the plaintiff
- The amount of companionship and care the plaintiff received
- The individual life expectancies of the victim and the plaintiff
Limitations on Loss of Consortium
Now, let’s look at some damages that cannot be compensated for under the loss of consortium claim. These include –
- Income lost due to the victim’s diminished earning capabilities
- Income lost due to quitting one’s job to become the victim’s caregiver
- Costs associated with hiring nursing care
- Costs involved in replacing domestic services offered by the victim
Furthermore, certain states have damage caps, which limit the amount that may be recovered. In the case of a St. Louis trucking accident, Missouri’s capping laws will apply. Accordingly, catastrophic injuries (under non-economic damages) are capped at $700,000 whereas non-catastrophic injuries are capped at $400,000.
This means if one’s spouse or close family member was severely injured in a St. Louis truck accident, the claimant cannot recover more than $700,000 for consortium damages. By severely injured, we mean conditions like loss of two or more limbs, cognitive failure, paraplegia, or permanent organ damage.
The Bottom Line
When all is said and done, one may wonder whether they should bring a loss of consortium claim. The damages associated with the loss of companionship can indeed be a major blow to the entire family of the victim.
However, the final compensation amount will depend upon the severity of the case and the shared relationship with the victim. Also, the claimant’s willingness for a high degree of intrusion matters. The aftermath of a St. Louis trucking accident can be stressful enough.
Claimants need not fend for themselves as a reliable attorney can help navigate the complex legal landscape.