Irina Balashova, CPA, CIA, CFE, Economic Consultant ::::
When assessing economic losses, be aware of the potential double counting of damages, utilizing different categories of loss.
Case Synopsis: A traveling agent was injured in an MVA. Prior to the injury, the plaintiff spent the majority of her time away from home, as her service area spanned across multiple states. She purchased a home in an area that would reduce commuting time. She returned home sporadically, staying there approximately seven days a month. Her economic claims were for both loss of income and loss of household services.
Expert Analysis: The claim for lost earnings was based on traveling agent’s ability to succeed in her work, which required extensive traveling. This requirement was a necessity in order to generate income. Her workweek was much longer than normal 40 hours, 70 to 80 hours on average. She also routinely stayed overnight away from home. A loss of household services claim, at a minimum, requires the plaintiff’s consistent presence at home when not working.
The facts of the case essentially contradicted each other and thus, only one of the two claims could be supported. The case facts show that the loss of household services claim lacks merit. The plaintiff appeared to be focused on building her career, which was evident from her steadily increasing annual earnings and the fact that she received bonuses and positive appraisals. From a household services perspective, plaintiff’s husband testified there was no, or limited, involvement from her related to performing household services.
Even though there are statistics showing the average time people in various stages of their life commit to household services, the case specific facts here showed otherwise. Having proper documentation on hand as well as relevant testimony, can make it easier to rebut any unreasonable claims. Having your economic expert involved early to advise/assist in discovery and request relevant documents and testimony can help resolve these claims.
Result: case was settled with no amount for double claim.
Irina Balashova, CPA, CIA, CFE, is an Economic Consultant with DJS Associates, and can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.