“Consortium” is a legal word for marriage. The term “loss of consortium” is defined as the loss of benefits that come with marriage, such as:
- Shared income;
- Affection; and
- Domestic cooperation.
The premise is that when a person is injured or dies wrongfully, his or her spouse suffers, too. Think of loss of consortium as an attempt to put a value on that loss to compensate the spouse of the person injured.
Is a loss of consortium claim different from a personal injury claim?
A loss of consortium claim differs from a personal injury claim. Loss of consortium claims are derivative, meaning they are related to but separate from a personal injury suit or wrongful death case. A plaintiff can amend a lawsuit to include a loss of consortium claim.
Aside from quantifiable costs like medical expenses and lost income, loss of consortium claims include intangible benefits such as companionship and love. Since a plaintiff will need to prove the value of the loss, it is important to contact a Tennessee injury attorney about your case.
Does this apply to unmarried couples?
Case law has upheld the idea that only a husband or wife of the injured party can claim loss of consortium. An appeals court in Tennessee ruled in 2002, for example, that the girlfriend of a roofer who sued a utility company after he was electrocuted by an improperly hung power line could not collect loss of consortium damages because the couple was unmarried.
Do partners in same-sex marriages qualify?
Prior to 2015, Tennessee was among the states that defined marriage as a union between a man and woman. The state also did not recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where it was legal. However, the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the country overrides state laws banning marriage between individuals of the same gender.
The original wording in Tennessee law allows a loss of consortium claim to proceed when “such damages are proved by a spouse,” without specifying gender. So either spouse in a same-sex marriage has the legal standing to sue for loss of consortium if his or her partner is injured or killed.
Do I need a lawyer if I intend to file for loss of consortium?
Loss of consortium claims, like injury cases, involve liability issues that can quickly get complicated. Every case is different and a calling an experienced attorney is the right first step toward getting the compensation you deserve.
Contact the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC today to set up a free consultation to determine if you have a strong loss of consortium case: 865-546-1111.