Loss of Consortium
Contact the Law Office of Doug Goyen at (972) 599 4100 to discuss your damages in your case. Talk to a Dallas injury lawyer to see what can be done regarding your case.
Loss of Consortium (Non-Death Situations):
Personal injury cases may involve the loss of your relationship with your spouse, parent, or other family relationship. Texas law allows recovery for loss of consortium in certain (but not all) situations. To understand if you have a claim for loss of consortium, you need to consult a Dallas injury lawyer and discuss your situations.
Loss of Consortium (non-death situations): is the loss of society and companionship in intrafamilial relationships such as husband and wife, and loss of parents for children.
The noninjured spouse (or family member) is the person who makes the claim for loss of consortium.
SPOUSAL CONSORTIUM: Elements of damages for a spouses loss of consortium claim include – affection, solace, comfort, companionship, society, assistance, sexual relations, emotional support, love, and felicity. This is an entirely separate case from the injured spouse’s claim. Whittlesey v. Miller, 572 S.W.2d 665 (Tex 1978). A jury is qualified to determine the value of loss, love, affection, companionship, and society – no expert testimony was needed to determine this. Seale v. Winn Exploration Co., 732 S.W.2d 667 (Tex.App.—Corpus Christi 1987, writ denied).
Example: A Texas couple was not able to engage in outdoor activities or travel due to the injuries sustained by the wife in a slip and fall accident. The Texas Supreme Court allowed recovery of a court award in this situation. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Alexander, 868 S.W.2d 322 (Tex. 1993).Insurance Issues:
- Workers Comp: Texas courts have held that even though Loss of Consortium is a separate claim from the injured spouse, that in workers comp situations, the employer is still immune from suit due to the claim being derivative of the injury to the spouse. Reed Tool Co. v. Copelin, 610 S.W.2d 736 (Tex. 1980).
- Auto Insurance Policy: A claim for loss of consortium is not a “bodily injury” for the purposes of an automobile insurance policy. McGovern v. Williams, 741 S.W.2d 373 (Tex. 1987).
PARENTAL CONSORTIUM (child’s loss of parent with serious injury/no death): Texas courts have determined that an injury to the familial relationship is worthy of compensation. If a parent’s injury is “serious, permanent and disabling”, a child (both minor and adult children) may recover for their loss. Negligence on the part of the parent reduces the amount of recovery by that percentage of negligence by the parent, since the child’s claim is derivative of the parent’s claim. Mental anguish is NOT an element that is recoverable for the child in this situation. Damages include the loss of the parent’s love, affection, protection, emotional support, services, companionship, care and society. Factors considered are the severity of the injury to the parent and its affect on the parent-child relationship, the age of the child, the nature of the child’s relationship with the parent, the emotional and physical characteristics of the child, and if any other consortium-giving relationships are available for that child. Reagan v Vaughn, 804 S.W.2d 463, 467 (Tex. 1990).
Siblings & Stepparent/Child Relationships: These have no loss of consortium claim – so if a brother suffers a serious injury, his brother or sister has no claim for loss of consortium due to their brother’s injury. Additionally, a step parent/child relationship is not recognized in Texas for loss of consortium claims. The court emphasized that there was no legal duty typically in a step-parent/child relationship. Ford Motor Co. v. Miles, 967 S.W.2d 377 (Tex. 1998). It would seem that if a step-parent had adopted their stepchild as their own, then that result would be different, and that a loss of consortium claim would be allowed.
FILIAL CONSORTIUM (parent loss of child with serious injury/no death): The Texas Supreme Court in 2003 declared that a parent may NOT recover for their loss of consortium of their child if the child survived. So even if in a coma, severe brain damage, or severely changed by paralysis or some other serious injury, there is no loss of consortium claim for a parent in Texas according to our Texas Supreme Court. Roberts v. Williamson, 111 S.W.3d 113, 120 (Tex. 2003). Prior to 2003, the Texas Supreme Court had indicated that there was value to a claim for the parents loss of companionship, society, affection, and love (loss of consortium). Sanchez v. Schindler, 651 S.W.2d 249 (Tex. 1983)(case involved death of child, but statements made in decision indicated that the court approved loss of consortium cases in non-death situations as well). Hall v. Birchfield, 718 S.W.2d 313 (Tex.App.—Texarkana 1986), rev’d on other grounds, 747 S.W.2d 361 (Tex. 1987)(non-death injury to child).
The Texas Supreme Court has become an activist court with regard to personal injury cases. They have reversed long-standing law and principle in a multitude of personal injury areas in order to deny injured people (or families of those killed) their day in court, and keep them from being able to recover from those who caused the injury or death.
This has become a sad but true trend of our current court. For a more information on this trend, and how it has affected every Texan’s personal rights and liberties, visit Texas Watch at: www.texaswatch.org
Contact a Dallas injury lawyer to talk about your injury case and determine what your claim may entail. The Law Office of Doug Goyen works as a Dallas injury lawyer with vast experience in all areas of damages that you may be able to recover. Call us today at (972) 599 4100 to discuss your case.
Auto Accident and Injury Cases, Personal Injury Cases, 18 Wheeler & Commercial Vehicle Injury Accident Cases, Motorcycle Accident and Injury Cases, Wrongful Death Cases, Pedestrian Injured by Automobile Cases, Slip and Fall & Premises Cases, Workplace & Constructions Injury Cases, Dog Bite Injury Cases, Bicyclers Hit by Automobile Cases .Types of Coverage in Automobile Injury Cases:
Past and future medical bills, past and future lost earning capacity, past and future lost income, past and future physical impairment, past and future disfigurement, past and future mental anguish, past and future pain and suffering, property damage, loss of use of your property - such as rental car bills, storage, total loss of property, diminished value of property, loss of body member (arm, leg, . . .), loss of body capacity (hearing, eyesight, . . . ), loss of consortium (spouse, parental, child/filial), loss of services, emotional/mental trauma (bystander injury), prenatal injury, exemplary damages, prejudgment interest, attorney's fees, and court costs.
By Doug Goyen, email@example.com