Many of us may take for granted our ability to perform the various household chores on our "to do" lists, such as taking out the garbage, changing the bed sheets, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping.
But when you are injured in an accident, you soon realize that your ability to do some or all of these things is affected. If you are lucky, you have a support system of family and friends who are willing to chip in and help you out until you recover from your injuries. But, if you are not so fortunate, you will likely have to hire people to perform some or all of these chores for you. In this latter circumstance, your ability to receive compensation for these out-of-pocket expenditures as part of a personal injury claim will be determined by the law of the state in which you live, the terms of applicable insurance policies, and the type of accident that caused your injuries. Read on to learn more.
Proving Your Losses Through "Reasonable Value of Services"
In a state like California, the loss of the ability to provide household services is a recognized component of recoverable damages in a personal injury case. In order to prove these kinds of losses, an injured party must demonstrate the reasonable value of the services he would have otherwise provided to his household if the injury had not occurred.
Whether you decide to engage an expert witness, or simply rely on the testimony of others familiar with the costs of providing the services at issue, you will need to show the "reasonable value" of these services in the context of your household. In most cases, this can best be proven by evidence of the going rates in your community for things such as lawn care, house cleaning, etc.
If you file a personal injury lawsuit that makes it all the way to trial, once you establish your inability to perform specific chores and the reasonable value of your prior performance of these chores to your household, you are likely entitled to damages equal to that amount as part of a personal injury verdict in your favor.
To get the details on the law in your state when it comes to damages for the loss of the ability to provide household services, you should consult a personal injury attorney.
Insurance Coverage for "Replacement Services"
You may also have insurance coverage for what is commonly referred to in the insurance industry as "replacement services." This type of insurance coverage is typically available, and often times required, in states with "no-fault" car insurance systems.
In these states, after a car accident, your own insurance company is responsible for certain economic losses such as medical expenses and "replacement services" you end up having to pay in order to meet your daily living needs, such as cleaning and cooking.
Depending on your state's law and the terms of your insurance policy, many if not all of the covered "replacement services" will constitute the same kinds of household chores discussed earlier in this article. You should be cautioned, however, that most insurance policies that offer coverage for "replacement services" place a cap on the amount you are entitled to receive. The good news is that you may be able to sue the person who caused your accident for the excess cost of the services not covered by your own insurance policy.
Documenting Your Claim
Regardless of where you live, the terms of your insurance, or the type of accident you were involved in, it's a good idea to keep very detailed, organized records of:
- all the household chores you performed before you were injured
- the tasks you can no longer perform as a result of your injuries, and
- the expenses/time you've incurred in engaging others to perform these services for you.