Spousal or parental rights in a Personal Injury Lawsuit


Texas, as well as many other states allow for the Spouse or Parents of a victim to claim "Loss of Consortium" in a personal injury lawsuit. Loss of Consortium for a spouse can generally be defined to include the mutual right of the husband and wife to that affection, solace, comfort, companionship, society, assistance, and sexual relations necessary to a successful marriage. Whittlesey v. Miller, 572 S.W.2d 665 (1978). Although, initially reserved for spouses in personal injury lawsuits, loss of consortium has been construed to apply to parents as well for the loss of companionship and affection of their children due to a personal injury. These claims do not show up too often in personal injury suits and are usually reserved for wrongful death or catastrophic injury cases. 

Loss of consortium claims are easier to understand in the form of a hypothetical situation. Say your spouse is driving home from work one day and an 18 wheeler crashes into your spouse after running a stop sign. Your spouse suffers tramatic injuries that leave them paralyzed as a result. Your spouse routinely did things around the house like taking out the trash, laundry, dishes, mowing the lawn and fixing things that would break before the accident. Your spouse can no longer do any of those things. Additionally, because of the paralysis your spouse can no longer have sexual relations with you. Your marriage and relationship with your spouse has been detrimentally affected as a direct result of the other driver's negligence. Therefore, you as a spouse are entitled to make a claim for loss of consortium. 

Originally, Loss of consortium under the common law was tied only to loss of sexual relations. But in recent years it has had a broader application under Texas case law. Now it expands to many more emotional and intangible aspects of marriage. If you find yourself in a similar situation as the hypothetical above, make sure you ask your attorney if you have a possible claim for loss of consortium. 

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