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Loss of Housekeeping Capacity and Injury Claims

 

Often, the most common types of personal injury claims involving ICBC accidents, slip and fall accidents and private property accidents will include damages for:

  1. pain and suffering
  2. lost income
  3. future care costs
  4. special damages (reimbursement of out of pocket expenses).

Another type of claim that is available to injured claimants is for loss of housekeeping capacity – loss of homemaking capacity.

Loss of housekeeping capacity compensates injured claimants whose injuries prevent them from completing tasks including cleaning, cleaning, yardwork, grocery shopping and childcare.  In other words, this type of damage award compensates an injured claimant who can no longer perform the same type of housework as before the accident.

When determining whether there is a claim for loss of housekeeping capacity and how to calculate the value of this claim, Vancouver personal injury lawyers will consider the following factors which were set out by the trial judge in Ali v Stacey, 2020 BCSC 465:

  • the first question is whether the loss should be considered as pecuniary (where the loss can be mathematically calculated) or non-pecuniary (where the loss cannot be mathematically calculated) – this involves a discretionary assessment of the nature of the loss and how it is most fairly to be compensated
  • If the injured claimant is paying for services provided by a housekeeper, or family members or friends are providing equivalent services gratuitously at no cost, the loss can be calculated and a pecuniary award is usually more appropriate
  • A pecuniary award for loss of housekeeping capacity is an award for the loss of a capital asset – it may be entirely appropriate to value the loss holistically, and not by mathematical calculation
  • where the loss cannot be easily calculated (and is, therefore, considered as non-pecuniary), in the absence of special circumstances, it is compensated as a part of a general award of pain and suffering rather than being awarded as a separate type of damage award

Substantial damages for loss of housekeeping capacity were awarded to the injured claimant in Xu v. Balaski, 2020 BCSC 940.

In that case, the injured claimant was 36 years old when the first of three motor vehicle accidents occurred. To that point in her life, she had been a strong academic student with success in high school, university, the working world and in a transition to being an LPN and working in a long-term care facility. She was happily married and the mother of three children, one of whom required round-the-clock care. Her specialized training as a nurse gave her particular skills to assist this child.

The injuries caused by the three accidents, essentially soft tissue in nature, had negative effects on all aspects of the injured claimant’s life, and she lives with a significant amount of pain. Prior to the accidents, she he plaintiff did the cleaning of her house, grocery shopping for her family and cooked meals.  She also worked with her husband to clean the home swimming pool, to mow the lawn and to garden.

After the accidents, the injured claimant’s ability to care for her children, particularly her child with special needs, was greatly diminished. It had been her intention to support and care for her children, her husband, some 20 years her senior, and her parents. She noted the special responsibility that daughters in her culture have to provide care for senior members of their family.  Instead and as a result of her ICBC injuries, she needs support and assistance from her parents.  Her mother has taken over household chores, including heavy cleaning and cooking as well as caring for her special needs child.

In making a substantial award for loss of housekeeping capacity, the trial judge stated:

[173]    In the case at bar, Ms. Boniface, the expert occupational therapist called by the plaintiff, recommended a home support worker for 1.5 hours each day. The plaintiff testified she required 2.5 hours of assistance each day at a rate of $25 per hour. In Campbell, the Court of Appeal endorsed a rate of $15 per hour. The same rate of $15 per hour was also applied in Kim, where the plaintiff sought a cost of homemaking assistance at $25 per hour.

[174]    It appears that the plaintiff seeks an award of loss of childcare for the balance of her life…

[179]    I accept that the cost of housekeeping services may have increased since Kim, and that a rate of $25/hour is reasonable. However, I find the figure of 1.5 hours/day provided in Ms. Boniface’s report to be a reasonable estimate of the amount of housekeeping Ms. Xu is unable to perform. Following the guidance provided by the reasons of the two courts in Kim, I have assessed the damages for past loss of homemaking capacity at $70,000.00.

[180]    I assess the future loss of housekeeping capacity for housecleaning to the age of 70, a more realistic age than others submitted above. I have also considered that the plaintiff’s eventual surgery is likely to improve her symptoms and allow her to complete more housework. I therefore assess her future loss of housekeeping capacity for housecleaning at $125,000.

[181]    Finally, I assess the plaintiff’s past and future loss of housekeeping capacity in relation to childcare at $375,000.

To read more, see a prior blog post on loss of housekeeping capacity.

Holness and Small Law Group, collectively, has over 45 years of experience prosecuting personal injury claims including earning substantial housekeeping/homemaking awards for our clients. If your daily activities/chores have been restricted or limited in this respect, please feel free to contact our firm at your earliest for your free consultation.

Tags: loss of homemaking capacity, Loss of Housekeeping Capacity

"Jacqueline A. Small is a personal injury lawyer with over 15 years of experience and a partner with Holness Law Group."

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