The new Supreme Court ruling which disallowed states from banning gay marriage has had many effects, some even reaching the realm of personal injury law.
Prior to this decision, same-sex partners who lived in states where gay marriage was not allowed could not file a lawsuit for damages arising out of the death of their partner. In most states, in order to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the beneficiary (the person who can legally file a wrongful death suit) must be the decedent’s spouse, parent, or child. The problem is that many same-sex couples who wished to be married but were not allowed to due to state regulation were not legally eligible to file a claim.
Loss of consortium.
Unmarried partners are also ineligible to bring a claim for loss of consortium, which is basically a claim for the loss of a relationship. The idea behind this type of claim is that there is real value to the loss of love, companionship, and affection that was lost as a result of a spouse’s death. These damages are added to the general pool of damages which are available in a catastrophic personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Wills & estates.
Additionally, prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, if a person in a same-sex relationship were to die without having made a will, their partner could not be appointed as the personal representative of the spouse’s estate. Now that all same-sex couples (regardless of their state of residence) may get married, those who do are simply provided the same legal benefits and protections as any married couple!