When a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, you and your family members may have a lot of questions. How did they get this disease? What treatments are available? Will I need to take time off work to help care for them? Another question that may come up is: Can we get financial compensation for their injuries? 

If, after speaking with an experienced mesothelioma attorney, the answer is yes, you might also consider seeking compensation for the suffering you and any dependent family members will potentially have to go through. While the pursuit of financial compensation for mesothelioma and lung cancer victims is certainly the primary injury claim, there is an often overlooked aspect of these lawsuits: the impact on the injured’s family. This is called a loss of consortium claim. 

What is Loss of Consortium?

A devastating medical diagnosis impacts not just the individual diagnosed but the whole family. In close marital relationships, the spouse bears the burden of illness alongside their husband or wife, both during the course of the disease and, even more acutely, following the death of their loved one. 

Loss of consortium refers to the loss of marital benefits that a spouse enjoys throughout marriage and includes not just financial considerations, but all aspects of the person’s personal life: love, companionship, comfort and care, emotional and moral support, sexual relations, social activities, as well as daily tasks, chores and errands. In Massachusetts, the victim’s minor children or disabled adult children, also have a right to a loss of consortium claim. 

In essence, loss of consortium is a claim that seeks compensation for the loss of the richness and fullness of a relationship, whether marital or parent-child and encompasses many things including:

  • Loss of Emotional Connection: When a mesothelioma or lung cancer victim can no longer provide the love and emotional support they once did, family members understandably experience sadness and loneliness at the loss of a meaningful emotional connection. Whether it’s the unconditional love of a spouse or the unfailing moral support and guidance of a parent, the emotional toll of that loss is devastating.
  • Loss of a Life Partner: Marriage is a partnership. You are partners in child-rearing, caring for your home and garden, cooking, cleaning, laundry, planning medical appointments and much more. When one partner becomes too weak to help, the other must shoulder added responsibilities and duties, which can lead to stress and exhaustion. 
  • Loss of Parental Support and Guidance: In Massachusetts, loss of consortium includes the loss of a parent. Parents play an important role in shaping their children’s futures and are often instrumental in providing guidance in education, careers or personal and family life. As a key influence in a child’s life, the loss of a parent can have a significant negative impact on that child’s future.  
  • Loss of Income: If the injured spouse is unable to work, and/or if you need to give up your job to act as a caregiver, this can put a significant strain on a family’s finances, especially as medical bills start piling up. 
  • Loss of Social Connection: As your spouse gets weaker, he or she may be unable to participate in social events. You may be hesitant to engage in social activities alone, which could lead to social isolation and an increased risk of depression. 

What Does a Loss of Consortium Claim Mean for Your Family?

A loss of consortium claim recognizes that it is because of someone else’s negligence (that is, the companies that knowingly put workers in danger from asbestos) that you are now put in a position to cope with your loved one’s illness, shoulder the burden of maintaining a household, and face a life without a spouse or parent. Companies that knowingly exposed their employees to harmful substances such as asbestos should be held accountable for their actions, not only against the victims themselves, but also the family members who suffer alongside them.

Financial compensation for loss of consortium can help families get through the trying times during the course of the illness, particularly if you’ve had to leave your job to care for your spouse. In addition to household and family responsibilities, you might also need to hire extra help around the house or yard, rearrange living spaces to accommodate medical equipment, or order special meal services to support the patient’s treatment and recovery. 

A loss of consortium claim entitles you to recover damages for the entire length of time the injury caused the loss. 

How Can I File a Loss of Consortium Claim?

Each marriage and family is unique; therefore, each loss of consortium case is unique. The foundation of a strong loss of consortium claim is proof of a strong marriage and family bond in which family members enjoy interconnected and mutually supportive lives. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help advise what claims are best to pursue based on your specific circumstances.

If you or a family member have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, regardless of whether through direct or secondary exposure to asbestos, you may have a claim. Unfortunately, in addition to direct jobsite exposure, we have seen instances of mesothelioma in wives who routinely did their husband’s asbestos-covered laundry, or in children who hugged dad every day as he came home from work in clothes embedded with asbestos fibers. Call us today to determine your next steps, and we’ll help you navigate the process. At Shepard O’Donnell, we have helped hundreds of individuals and their families get justice for their injuries, regularly obtaining settlements and verdicts in the millions. We are happy to offer you a free case evaluation and will tell you honestly if we think you have a viable claim, including a claim for loss of consortium.