§23.18 Recovery of Loss of Consortium Damages by Children for Injuries to Parent

The Case: Taylor v. Beard , 104 S.W.3d 507 (Tenn. 2003).

The Basic Facts: Plaintiffs, children of a woman injured in an automobile collision, brought suit, in part, to recover on a loss of parental consortium due to their mother's injuries.

The Bottom Line:

  • "We granted review to determine whether Tennessee should adopt a cause of action allowing a child to recover for loss of parental consortium due to an injury to the child's parent." 104 S.W.3d at 507.
  • "After reviewing these decisions, we agree with those courts that have affirmed the value of parent-child relationships and we recognize that '[w]hen the vitally important parent-child relationship is impaired and the child loses the love, guidance and close companionship of a parent, the child is deprived of something that is indeed valuable and precious.' Jordan, 984 S.W.2d at 601. The relevant question for us, however, is not the reality and magnitude of the child's injury, but whether it is the judiciary's role to create the proposed cause of action. In our view, the appellants do not simply request that we remove an impediment to the continual development of the common law, nor do they ask us to interpret an ambiguous statutory or constitutional provision. Rather, the appellants ask this Court to declare the public policy of this State by creating a previously unrecognized common law cause of action in an area where the legislature has taken action." Id. at 510-11.
  • "This Court has long recognized that it has a limited role in declaring public policy and has consistently stated that '[t]he determination of public policy is primarily a function of the legislature,' but that the judiciary may determine 'public policy in the absence of any constitutional or statutory declaration.' Alcazar v. Hayes, 982 S.W.2d 845, 851 (Tenn. 1998)." Id. at 511.
  • "We decline to adopt a common law cause of action for loss of parental consortium in personal injury cases and hold that the issue of whether to create such a cause of action is a matter of legislative discretion." Id. at 511-12.

Other Sources of Note: Davidson v. Lindsey , 104 S.W.3d 483 (Tenn. 2003) (holding defendants was not entitled to jury instruction that ages of children should be considered in calculating loss of consortium).

After an accident, many injury victims and their families want more information on the accident and their legal rights. Consequently, many of them have found their way to these pages. While we are happy you are here, please understand Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law was written to be a quick, invaluable reference for Tennessee tort lawyers. While the book provides the leading case for more than 300 tort law subjects and thousands of related case citations, it is not a substitute for personalized legal advice from a qualified lawyer.

Rather than researching these legal issues alone, we urge you to contact one of our award-winning lawyers who can sit down with you, review your case, answer your questions and clearly explain your rights and your options in a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced attorneys handle all personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency basis, so we only get paid if we win. If for any reason you are unable to come to our office, we will gladly come to you.

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The foregoing is an excerpt from Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law, published by John A. Day, Civil Trial Specialist, Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, recipient of Best Lawyers in America recognition, Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ rated attorney, and Top 100 Tennessee Mid-South Super Lawyers designee. Read John’s full bio here.

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