In some jurisdictions, families may sue for the full loss of earnings and benefits the decedent would have earned. In others, they may only sue for the loss of support they would have received from the decedent. When analyzing the loss of support, an amount for personal consumption or personal maintenance may need to be subtracted from the earnings.
Personal consumption is the amount of money the decedent would have spent on items and services that would have been personally consumed. These include items and services such as clothing, grooming products and services, medical expenses, personal entertainment, transportation to and from work, some amount of food, alcohol and tobacco, etc.
Personal maintenance is similar to consumption, but only includes those items necessary to receive their earnings.
Generally, individuals do not track their spending closely enough to determine a personal consumption or personal maintenance factor. Fortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data on household expenditures in the Consumer Expenditure Survey. The data is broken down into categories of number of people in the household and earnings level. These data may be used to determine the average personal expenditures. Learn more about the Consumer Expenditure Survey here.
Jurisdiction rules should be reviewed before applying any personal consumption factors to the analysis.