The court said that GEICO will have to reimburse a Royce Williams’s wife, who took care of him for four months following an automobile accident.
The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered GEICO to reimburse a local man’s wife for rendering care to him after an automobile accident.
According to The Associated Press, the Tuesday decision overturns a Court of Appeals finding in GEICO’s favor. In that judgment, the panel determined that GEICO Insurance Co. was under no obligation to pay Royce William’s wife because her decision to help “was incurred as a result of the marital relationship itself.”
But the Supreme Court disagreed, returning to Williams the approximately $2,625 he’d earlier been awarded by a district court.
Dustin DeVaughn, a Wichita-based attorney whose firm represented Williams, praised the Supreme Court’s decision. DeVaughn, notes The A.P., suggested that GEICO’s argument was based on outdated presumptions of a wife’s role within a spousal relationship.
“GEICO in this situation was relying on very archaic principles that a wife has a duty to serve her husband, but that is just not sound reasoning and the Kansas Supreme Court agreed,” DeVaughn said, adding that the district court’s judgment, if upheld, would’ve penalized married and under-privileged people.
“That is why we drew the line. As you can tell in the decision, we took this case to the Supreme Court for $2,625 and this was a huge financial loss to us to fight this fight for $2,625,” DeVaughn said. “But it is something extremely important to our clients, and we are seeing time and again them being taken advantage of—and we aren’t going to tolerate it.”
The Associated Press recounts how Williams, after his automobile accident, underwent surgery and was ordered rehabilitation. His physician determined that he was “disabled and unable to perform his regular at home and needed to have a caregiver provide such duties.”
If and until Williams could recover, he was ordered not to engage in physical labor—including yard work and other chores, which ranged from shoveling snow to taking out the trash or even simply cleaning his car.
Before Williams’s accident, he and his wife had lived together but maintained their own finances and work schedules. And after Williams returned home from rehabilitation, he and his wife, Mary, agreed that she’d provide regular caregiver duties for $25 per day.
Those services, says The A.P., included meal preparation, hygienic duties, driving and the administration of medication.
In total, Mary spent about five hours per day, for four months, taking care of her husband. Because of the time commitment, she frequently missed work.
“The amount involved in this case was obviously small, but in order for the court to get to the result it wanted it had to hold—for the first time as far as I know under Kansas law—that spouses can form a debtor-creditor relationship with each other based on the services they provide within a marital relationship,” GEICO attorney Lyndon Vix told The Associated Press. “I don’t think we have had a holding to that effect before.”
GEICO, in fact, had already admitted that they’d have conceded reimbursement had the rehabilitation work been done by anyone other than Williams’s wife.
“I know they did this on principle and that is admirable on their part,” Vix said. “But I am not sure the principle is as they make it out to be.”