As the victim of a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries and damages. While claiming damages for physical injuries, lost wages, and property damage may come to mind first, there are other losses that can be claimed. The loss of spousal support is a real consequence of a serious accident, and it's important to understand your legal rights in this area. If your injuries prevent you from providing household services and financial support to your spouse as before the accident, you may be able to recover damages for loss of spousal consortium or loss of services. Speak with an Austin car accident lawyer to better understand how your car accident case may proceed.
Proving Your Spouse's Inability to Perform Usual Duties
To claim loss of spousal support in a car accident case, you must prove that your spouse can no longer perform essential duties and tasks around the home due to injuries sustained in the accident.
First, demonstrate the types of duties and responsibilities your spouse handled prior to the accident that they can no longer do. For example, if your spouse did most of the household chores like cleaning, laundry, yardwork, childcare, and meal preparation, provide specific examples of those tasks. Explain in detail how their injuries now prevent them from carrying out those customary activities and obligations.
Second, obtain credible medical documentation from your spouse's doctors confirming the severity and long-term effects of their injuries. Have physicians furnish reports or written statements specifying the prognosis, any surgeries or treatments needed, physical therapy requirements, and estimated recovery time. Such evidence from reputable healthcare providers strengthens your claim for damages related to loss of spousal support.
Finally, calculate the monetary value of the household services your spouse can no longer provide. Consider the hours spent on chores and errands each week and a reasonable hourly rate of pay for such work. Be prepared to justify that hourly wage based on typical salaries in your local area for individuals performing comparable duties, such as housekeepers, nannies, personal assistants, and lawn and yard maintenance workers.
By substantiating your spouse's pre-accident responsibilities, submitting medical proof of their disability, and placing a dollar amount on the value of their lost contributions around the home, you build a persuasive case for recovering damages to compensate you for loss of spousal support. Compiling thorough documentation and working closely with an experienced personal injury attorney gives you the best chance of obtaining fair compensation.
Documenting the Specific Duties Your Spouse Can No Longer Perform
To claim loss of spousal support, you must provide detailed evidence about the specific duties your spouse can no longer perform due to injuries from the accident.
Documenting Household Responsibilities
List the daily and weekly household tasks your spouse regularly handled, such as:
- Cooking meals
- Doing laundry
- Cleaning the home
- Yard maintenance
- Bill paying
- Child care
For each duty, note the frequency and amount of time required. Provide written statements from people who can verify the claims, such as adult children, close friends or neighbors.
Loss of Physical Intimacy and Companionship
The inability to be physically intimate and provide companionship is also considered in spousal loss of support claims. Keep a journal to record:
- Difficulty with physical acts of affection like embracing, kissing or sexual activity due to pain, restricted mobility or injuries
- Loss of enjoyment in shared interests or hobbies you previously did together like dining out, gardening, traveling
- Increased feelings of isolation, loneliness or depression due to lack of spousal interaction or bonding
Consulting a marriage counselor or therapist and obtaining a written evaluation of how the injuries have impacted the relationship can significantly strengthen a claim for loss of consortium.
By meticulously documenting how accident-related injuries prevent your spouse from providing financial support as well as loss of household assistance, physical intimacy and companionship, you have persuasive evidence to present in settlement negotiations or at trial. Compiling detailed records and statements from early on will serve you well in the long run.
Calculating the Economic Value of the Loss
Calculating the economic value of the loss of spousal support and duties can be complicated. As the surviving spouse, you will need to determine what household contributions and responsibilities your loved one handled to properly assess the financial implications of their absence.
To calculate the economic value of spousal support, consider the specific tasks your spouse routinely performed, such as:
- Housekeeping chores like cleaning, laundry, yardwork, and home maintenance. The fair market value of a housekeeper or cleaning service can be used to determine an hourly wage to calculate the annual loss.
- Childcare and transportation of family members. Research the average hourly rates of babysitters, nannies, and taxi services in your area to determine the annual loss.
- Food preparation and grocery shopping. The hourly wages of personal chefs, meal delivery services, and personal shoppers can provide an estimate of the annual loss.
- Healthcare assistance like administering medications, helping with mobility, or providing emotional support. Home health aides and therapy services charge an hourly rate which can be used to calculate the annual loss.
In addition to the economic value of spousal duties, the loss of financial support and the lifestyle to which you were accustomed prior to the accident should also be considered. Medical bills, funeral expenses, and other costs directly resulting from the accident may also be recoverable. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you identify and accurately calculate all losses to build a strong claim for spousal support.
The economic value of the many contributions made by a spouse over the lifetime of a marriage can be substantial. Carefully assessing the specific tasks routinely performed by your loved one and determining a fair market value for replacement of those services is crucial to recovering fair compensation. An attorney with experience in wrongful death and personal injury cases can guide you through this process to maximize your claim.
Seeking Compensation for Both Current and Future Loss
To claim compensation for loss of spousal support and duties in a car accident case, you must prove how your spouse’s injuries have specifically impacted you and your household responsibilities. Both current and future losses can be claimed, but they must be clearly demonstrated.
Current losses refer to those you have incurred since the accident up until the present day. These could include:
- Loss of household services your spouse regularly provided like cleaning, yardwork, childcare, etc. You will need to determine the reasonable value of these services to claim their loss.
- Loss of financial support if your spouse's injuries have prevented them from working. You must provide evidence of your spouse’s income and financial contributions prior to the accident.
- Extra costs for hiring outside help or making modifications due to your spouse’s injuries. Keep records of expenses incurred to substantiate these costs.
Future losses refer to those you expect to incur over time due to the ongoing effects of your spouse’s injuries. These could encompass:
- Permanent loss of household services and duties if your spouse has sustained injuries that will forever prevent them from contributing in the same way. You must present medical evidence that these losses will be lifelong.
- Loss of financial support and earning capacity if your spouse can no longer work or earn an income at the same level as before the accident. A vocational expert may need to evaluate your spouse’s occupational skills and earning potential to determine the scope of future financial losses.
While claiming loss of spousal support can be complicated, keeping detailed records of the impact your spouse’s injuries have had on your life and household responsibilities can help demonstrate the full extent of your losses, both now and in the future. An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your case, help substantiate your claims, and fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.
Hiring the Right Attorney to Represent Your Claim
When seeking compensation for loss of spousal support and duties in a car accident injury claim, hiring an experienced attorney is crucial. The right lawyer will have expertise in personal injury and family law, ensuring all damages related to your spouse’s inability to provide companionship and assistance are accounted for.
Find an Attorney with Relevant Experience
Look for attorneys or law firms that specialize in personal injury, car accident, and family law cases. They will understand how to calculate the financial value of household tasks and spousal duties. They can also anticipate challenges from insurance companies and build a strong case to prove these losses. Interview prospective attorneys to find one you connect with, who answers your questions knowledgeably and confidently.
Discuss Your Unique Situation
Explain to your attorney the specific spousal support and duties you have lost due to your partner’s injuries. Be prepared to provide concrete examples and estimates of the time required for such tasks. Your attorney can use this information to determine an appropriate settlement amount that accounts for both economic and non-economic damages. They will need to prove that the inability to perform spousal duties has caused hardship and loss of enjoyment of life.
Gather Evidence to Support Your Claim
Work with your attorney to gather evidence proving the value of your spouse's contributions and the impact of losing them. This could include financial records, statements from family and friends, photos, and documentation of household responsibilities. The more evidence you can provide, the stronger your attorney can make your case.
While claiming loss of spousal support can be complicated, the right attorney will have the experience and knowledge to advocate for full and fair compensation on your behalf. With their guidance, you can pursue damages for this loss and work towards financial recovery from your accident.
Fletcher Law Can Help With Your Car Accident Case
If you have lost the care, companionship, and spousal support of your loved one due to injuries from a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Spousal support refers to the everyday assistance and services your spouse provides, such as household chores, childcare, financial support, and intimacy. When filing a personal injury claim after an auto accident, it's important to account for the loss of these spousal duties.
To claim loss of spousal support, you will need to provide evidence showing the specific ways your spouse cared for you and your household prior to the accident. This could include a schedule of household responsibilities, receipts for services now needing to be outsourced, records of childcare assistance, proof of financial contributions, and statements from others familiar with your relationship discussing your spouse’s role. The extent and duration of injuries and any resulting disability or impairment should also be documented to show the ongoing loss and need for spousal support.
Financial compensation for loss of spousal support aims to make up for the loss of care and services in a reasonable way. The claim amount will depend on factors like:
- The nature and extent of your spouse's injuries and disability.
- Their life expectancy and recovery timeline.
- Their usual contributions and responsibilities within the relationship and household.
- The cost to replace the lost spousal support, such as by hiring professional services.
To make a successful claim for loss of spousal support in a car accident injury case, be prepared to provide detailed evidence clearly showing how your spouse's injuries have impacted their ability to maintain their usual spousal duties and your resulting losses. An experienced personal injury law firm like Fletcher Law can evaluate your claim, help determine appropriate compensation, and pursue a settlement from insurance companies on your behalf.