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What Is “Loss Of Consortium”?
If you are injured, is your spouse also hurt? In a sense, yes. As modern spouses, most of us generally try to meet the physical, emotional, and social needs of one another. The term for this is “LOSS OF CONSORTIUM.”
But its origins are far from modern. Scripture is clear that married people become one flesh: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 ESV. “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So, they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6 ESV. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31 ESV.
Unfortunately, English feudal law strayed far from the elegance of Scripture. Husbands essentially owned their wives, children, servants and animals—all as one would own a plow. Therefore, they initially were seen as having an economic interest in their loss.
Loss of consortium arising from personal injuries was eventually recognized under the English common law. For example, in Baker v Bolton (1808) 1 Camp 493, a man was permitted to recover for his loss of consortium while his wife languished after a carriage accident. It was not till 1950 that a wife received the same right!
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Nowadays, you might see this language in one of my legal complaints:
As a direct and proximate result of the actions of the Defendants, individually and collectively, by reason of Mr. John Doe’s injuries, his wife, Mrs. Janie Doe, has been partially deprived of the consortium, services, society and intimacy of Mr. John Doe, as well as significant and permanent loss of enjoyment of life, all of which were substantial and of great value.
Consortium damages historically have been available to the spouse of an injured person to compensate for the loss of the injured spouse’s service and society, however, numerous jurisdictions have broadened consortium damages to include loss of comfort, companionship, and support in the parent-child or the “Filial” relationship. (from the Latin filialis, filius ‘son’, filia ‘daughter’).
Loss of consortium and your children
Consortium damages are now available to parents in wrongful death actions in a majority of jurisdictions through explicit statutory language or judicial interpretation of wrongful death statutes that are similar to Tennessee’s statutes. Therefore, in Tennessee wrongful death cases, you will also see loss of filial consortium pled.
The next likely legal expansion will be a companion animal relationship. Currently, the killing of your faithful dog will likely be seen only as a claim for loss of property. We dog people know it is so much more than that.
Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in truck, motorcycle, and car crashes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.