By: John M. Frazier Jr., Esq.
Consortium is the marital relationship between a husband and wife and their respective right to each other’s support, cooperation, aid and companionship.
Loss of consortium is an actionable injury for the loss of love, sexual relations, and services of a spouse due to injury for which money damages may be awarded. These types of claims arise out personal injury cases such as medical malpractice, negligence, and wrongful death. This is a legal claim that is made by the spouse who did not suffer the debilitating effect. Consortium is a common law right and is not specified by Florida statute.
“The concept of damages for loss of consortium is necessarily a vague and subjective one left largely to the discretion of the jury. It is intended to compensate the spouse of an injured person for past and future loss of such intangibles as love, sex, companionship, society, comfort and solace, and for help in performing one’s tasks about the household.” Tavakoly v. Fiddlers Green Ranch of Florida, Inc., 998 So. 2d 1183, 1185 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009).
If undisputed evidence can be presented to the jury regarding a loss of consortium claim then a jury must award nominal damages. Nominal damages would typically mean being awarded $1 or $2. The purpose of nominal damages are: (1) Vindication; (2) Open the door for potential punitive damages; or (3) Fighting for a cause outside of monetary gain. If the jury returns a zero verdict then the spouse has a right to new trial. “While the evidence in this case does not rise to the level presented in Jones, it is nevertheless well settled that where sufficient undisputed evidence is presented on a consortium claim that would require an award of at least nominal damages, a zero verdict is inadequate as a matter of law.” Id. It is important to remember that loss of consortium is a legal claim available to a husband and wife. However, as time moves forward it may become likely that a claim for loss of consortium becomes available to unmarried domestic partners, or even possibly children for the loss of parents. If you need assistance with a personal injury claim, or any other type of legal matter, feel free to contact me
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