Compensation in personal injury cases for loss of housekeeping capacity.

Housekeeping and domestic work can be just as or more physically demanding than paid employment. Injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents can make this kind of work excruciating. Simple tasks, like scrubbing a bathtub or washing dishes, can become impossible if you’ve sustained even a moderate neck or back injury.

This work, although entirely necessary, is usually not compensated for financially. Many people, particularly those already under financial stress caused by a car accident and the resulting injuries, cannot afford to pay someone to perform these tasks for them, and ICBC will often refuse to compensate injured parties for the costs of cleaners and other paid helpers. As such, injured parties often turn to family and friends to help them with domestic tasks they are no longer able to perform on their own. There are a few ways to seek compensation for this, even if there is no actual economic loss.

An “In Trust” claim can be made for assistance provided by volunteers, such as family or friends, up to the date of a trial. This award will compensate for past losses. The courts have also recognized diminished “Housekeeping Capacity” as a legitimate head of damages, which is an award for future losses. The courts have not only compensated injured parties for future housekeeping costs in the form of estimated future expenses, but have also compensated injured parties where there are no actual economic losses. For example, where a re-organizing of domestic tasks occurs and other members of the household take on a bigger share of the domestic duties.

As stated in the case of O’Connell v. Yung:

“Accordingly, because the award reflects the loss of a personal capacity, it is not dependent upon whether replacement housekeeping costs are actually incurred.”

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