Loss of Consortium under Vehicle Compensation

What is Loss of Consortium?

Loss of consortium is a head of compensation under Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court (SC) In National Insurance Co. Ltd vs Pranay Sethi provides various heads under which compensation is to be awarded in a death case. Loss of Consortium one of those heads.

Three Judge Bench grants parental & filial consortium

Some High Courts and some of the judgements of the SC have awarded compensation towards spousal consortium, parental consortium, and filial consortium.

A three Judge Bench of the SC in The New India Assurance Company v Somwati, relying on a two bench judgement of the SC in Magma General Insurance Company Limited v Nanu Ram & others, (2018) 18 SCC 130, recognised spousal, parental and filial consortium.

However, some judgements like the one of the SC in Bebi Giri v National Insurance Co Ltd [2023 ACJ 343] says that the appellant being the mother of the deceased is not entitled to the amount payable on account of loss of consortium.

Therefore, there is no settled position regarding the principles on which compensation could be awarded on Loss of Consortium to the spouse, parents and children, of the deceased person.

Spousal, parental & filial consortium

Consortium is a compendious term. It encompasses spousal consortium, parental consortium, and filial consortium.

The right to consortium would include the company, care, help, comfort, guidance, solace, and affection of the deceased, which is a loss to his family. With respect to a spouse, it would include sexual relations with the deceased spouse.

Spousal consortium is generally defined as rights pertaining to the relationship of a husband wife which allows compensation to the surviving spouse for loss of “company, society, co­operation, affection, and aid of the other in every conjugal relation.

Parental consortium is granted to the child upon the premature death of a parent in a motor vehicle accident, for loss of “parental aid, protection, affection, society, discipline, guidance, and training.

Filial consortium is the right of the parents to compensation in the case of an accidental death of a child. Children are valued for their love, affection, companionship, and their role in the family unit. Therefore, parents deserve to be awarded compensation under loss of consortium on the death of a child. It is a compensation for loss of the love, affection, care, and companionship of the deceased child.

Amount is settled by Constitutional Bench

The amount of compensation to be awarded as consortium will be governed by the principles of awarding compensation under ‘Loss of Consortium’ as laid down in Pranay Sethi case which fixed Rs 40000/ towards Loss of Consortium.

In conclusion

Since the three Judge Bench of the SC in Somwati case recognised the spousal, parental & filial consortium, and Pranay Sethi judgement has not dealt with the issue, the settled position right now is that there is nothing improper in granting parental consortium and filial consortium in appropriate cases.

Further reading

  1. Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd v Nanu Ram & Others
  2. The New India Assurance Company v Somwati
  3. National Insurance Co. Ltd v Pranay Sethi