Clients who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of others often ask how is such a loss valued. Damages claimed by a family member for the death of another family member are referred to as consortium damages. Consortium is defined under Iowa law as "the relationship between the [family members] and the right of the [family member] to the benefits of companionship, comfort, guidance, affection...and attention within the family." In attempting to determine the extent of such a loss, and ultimately establishing a fair financial recovery, we use our experience in prior cases along with verdicts handed down by juries in similar cases in Iowa regarding consortium damages.
The most recent such verdict is the 29 million dollar verdict awarded to the family of woman who died as the result of medical negligence. In this case, the emergency room physician was negligent in failing to give the patient Epinephrine after she had an anaphylactic reaction to the contrast dye administered for a routine CT scan. Minutes after the contrast dye was put in her body, she lost consciousness and went into anaphylactic shock. The only treatment the doctor provided was Benadryl. The standard of care required the doctor to administer Epinephrine, which he failed to do for 45 minutes after her adverse reaction and not until the her heart had stopped beating. Tragically, this patient suffered severe brain damage and passed away later in the day. This patient left behind a husband of 20 years and four children, three of whom were still minors.
One of the main issues in this case, as with many cases our firm handles, is the value of such a loss to the surviving family members, or in other words what is the amount off the loss of consortium suffered by each of the family members. In this case, the jury awarded each of the decedent's four children 5 million dollars for loss of consortium due to the death of their mother and also awarded the decedent's husband 6.5 million dollars for his loss of consortium due to his wife's death. In this case the jury obviously found that a significant relationship existed between the decedent and her children and her husband and awarded damages to the family consistent their significant loss.
Our firm specializes in representing clients who have suffered from the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another. If you have experienced such a loss and have questions about your rights, we encourage you to contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with us.