What is a Loss of Consortium Claim?
When there is a married couple, and one person in the marriage is injured, there is not just one injured plaintiff. There are actually two: the spouse that was actually in the accident, and the other spouse, who now must cope with the altered life, and the loss of companionship of the other spouse. That’s why Tennessee personal injury law recognizes loss of consortium.
Examples of Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is a claim brought by someone who is married to someone who was injured in the accident. Although traditionally loss of consortium meant the loss of a sexual relationship between a husband and a wife, today the definition has expanded to include any alteration in the marriage that is caused by the accident.
Loss of consortium can include things like:
- The loss of the ability to take part in athletic or social activities that the couple used to do before the accident
- The altered mental state of the injured party as a result of the accident, which has led to the spouse not having the husband or wife that they once had
- The necessity of one spouse to do work around the house, or do work with children in the house, as a result of the injured spouse’s inability to do so
- The loss of affection, companionship, emotional support or social interaction between a couple.
Loss of consortium recognizes that the things that a husband and wife share in a marriage have a value, and when those things are changed or lost, the spouse has suffered a compensable injury.
As you can tell, many of these items are not things that anyone can put a price tag on. It is up to the jury to determine what the value of the loss is. Testimony from a spouse grieving for the loss of the marital relationship that they once knew can be powerful evidence to a jury.
A consortium claim does not necessarily correlate with the severity of an accident. For example, someone could lose an arm—a very serious accident—but still be the loving partner that they once were, and thus, there may not be a large consortium claim.
On the other hand, someone may suffer a very subtle brain injury that alters their personality imperceptibly to all but the other spouse. The alteration in personality, mood, anxiety level, or the things that they once enjoyed doing may seem minor—but it can have devastating effects on the marital relationship.
Openness in Court
Of course, because the damage is the loss or alteration of the love, affection, support and companionship of the injured spouse, the spouse with the consortium claim must be willing to explain these losses to the other side. This can involve very intimate testimony about the marital relationship. Whether or not you are comfortable doing that is something you will discuss with your personal injury attorney.
If you have been injured in an accident, we can help you pursue the damages that you’re entitled to. Call the Knoxville personal injury attorneys at Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC, today to schedule a free consultation.