The Value of the Life of a Housewife: Wrongful Death in Indiana

Wrongful Death Cases in Indiana

A few years ago I met with a man who’d just lost his wife in an automobile accident. It was a terrible accident and he was left with two small children to raise. Her wrongful death accident could not have come at a worse time. What made it even worse, the man was suffering from a serious physical disability. His wife was the sole “breadwinner” in the house. She worked odd jobs when she could, played nursemaid, cleaned and cooked, ran him to the doctors, and was mother and tutor to their two young children. She was an exceptional woman.

Wrongful Death Requires Evidence of Value of a Life

In the state of Indiana, and in most every other state, every “wrongful death” case (where a death is caused by the wrongful or negligent actions of another), requires that there is some evidence gathered showing the value of that person’s life. The Indiana Wrongful Death Statutes govern the valuation of a life in a wrongful death case. It is an unfortunate reality of our society that a life has to be valued in dollars in order to right the wrongful taking of that life (as though we could really measure one’s life in dollars). Our legal system is set up such that a wrongful death is righted by compensation in the form of dollars. This is not to say there are not other non-monetary remedies. There are. The Court can, for instance, order a defendant to perform some kind of duty owed to another. But, when it comes to personal injuries, including wrongful death, the primary remedy is in dollars.

Value of Life in a Wrongful Death Case in Indiana

I learned something in this case about valuing a life, particularly about valuing the life of a woman who did the kinds of things that wives and mothers typically do on a daily basis. Her wrongful death wiped out an array of services to her family that could not be replaced. This woman was a dedicated wife and mother. She was busy from the time she got up in the morning until she fell into bed late at night, exhausted. She’d get up early in the morning, fix breakfast for the family, then would help the kids get ready for school, then she’d rush them out the door with words like “Come on! Hurry or you’re going to be late for school!” as though being late for school was akin to missing out on Christmas.

Then, on many days, she’d return home, help her husband dress, then drive him to a doctor’s appointment. After she’d returned home, she might spend the day cleaning, washing clothes, or other household chores, including mowing the grass, or, in the winter, shoveling the driveway. On other days, she’d drive over and clean a house for money, or she’d help out someone who was in need of some nursing care (she was a nurse, but had to quit her job when her husband became disabled). When her wrongful death occurred, he was unable to cope with the loss, and unable to step up and perform the labors of love she had done for so many years.

Economist Necessary to Value Life in Wrongful Death Case

I hired an Economist and asked him to evaluate her worth as a nurse, calculating the money that she could have made in the job market for the duration of her working life; and then, I asked him to make the same valuation for her role as a housewife. I told him what she did on a regular basis. Her contributions to the household were then valued on those services she performed for the family, and the costs of replacing those services on account of her wrongful death.

The numbers were stunning.

Her value as a mother and wife was twice the value as a working nurse! Needless to say, I chose to present to the opposing attorney the value of her life as a mother and wife, a housewife. The valuation for this wrongful death was very instrumental in enabling me to achieve a significant settlement for my clients, the husband and children.

The life of a housewife in a wrongful death case can be significant

That case taught me a lesson as to the true value of a housewife. They do an incredible job, one that is often thankless. They are up in the night playing nurse to a sick child, and then they’re running a taxi service (when they’re not running a small eatery, filling the role of cook, waitress, and dishwasher). Then, they magically assume the form and nature of a maid, changing bedding, washing clothes, cleaning dishes, and a host of other chores that are never-ending. Housewives are incredible.

Would God husbands and children would learn to appreciate what they do.

No man can ever (truthfully) say that a housewife doesn’t work hard. If he does, he’s either lying or ignorant. Most housewives work harder than the man of the house. I’m convinced of that. (I know my wife works harder than I do.) Most men could not afford to hire a woman to do the amount of work a mother and wife does on a daily basis.

Men and children who take their wives and moms for granted ought to be sentenced to a week of having to do her work. All of it. And, to do it just as good as she does it.

(Most men would, thereafter, probably be willing to pay her substantial sums to stay on the job.) It really should not take the wrongful death of a wife to recognize her worth.

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7 Responses to “The Value of the Life of a Housewife: Wrongful Death in Indiana”

  1. […] Now, it would appear that the fault lies entirely on the individual who had been struck, in this case Mr. Costenbader. While it is true that he was struck by a vehicle, it does not appear to be the fault of the driver. Therefore, there is not a “wrongful death” in the legal sense. But, if the driver of the vehicle who struck Mr. Costenbader is found to been driving while intoxicated, or was speeding, or if there was some other reason suggesting that the driver was at fault, then this would be a wrongful death case. (see this article for example of a wrongful death case) […]

  2. […] and range from individuals who sue their church because of injuries received on the property, to wrongful death cases because of fatal injuries received while performing church […]

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  4. […] life of a housewife who was tragically killed in an automobile accident, in a piece dealing with an Indiana wrongful death case. The attorney said that in evaluating her life by an economist, he was surprised to learn that […]

  5. […] life of a housewife who was tragically killed in an automobile accident, in a piece dealing with an Indiana wrongful death case.  The lawyer said that in evaluating this woman’s life by an economist, he was […]

  6. […] years ago, I represented a man in a wrongful death case, whose wife was killed in an auto accident in Lake County, Indiana. She’d been a passenger […]

  7. […] life of a housewife who was tragically killed in an automobile accident, in a piece dealing with an Indiana wrongful death case.  The lawyer said that in valuing this woman’s life by an economist, he was shocked […]