Lost wages and lost earning capacity are two common calculations that influence personal injury damages and awards. When an individual does not work outside the home, this does not absolve an offending party from providing compensation when an injury or death took place.
It is much harder to determine what a stay-at-home parent is worth, but it is possible. There are two key considerations in this situation.
1. Lost earning potential
Even though a parent may not work outside the home, the court must look at what the parent could potentially earn if a move to rejoin the workforce occurs. Any education or training completed is useful in making a comparison between what someone else with similar credentials could earn in a year. Any positions held prior to leaving the workforce can become a salary estimate, though an attorney will factor in the potential cost of living raises or promotions.
2. Economic value of domestic services
According to Forbes, a study released by Salary.com put the value of a stay-at-home parent at $178,2011 annually. This report factors in all of the roles a parent fills, such as managing household duties, acting as chauffeur, preparing meals, providing housekeeping and more. Though few families will hire an individual to fill all of these positions, an attorney can arrive at a damages value by showing what it might cost to hire someone to do this work while the injured spouse recovers.
These two areas of compensation are speculative and will need support from evidence. The case must be convincing to a judge or jury, but there is no denying that a stay-at-home parent is eligible for lost income damages.