A Message from Your Edmonton Injury Lawyer: Compensation for Loss of Homemaking Capacity
If, as a result of your accident injuries, you are less able to do your household chores and yard maintenance activities and therefore someone else is having to pick up the slack, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of homemaking capacity.
Certainly, since the Alberta Court of Appeal’s 1994 Benstead v. Murphy decision, it has been settled law in our province that loss of homemaking capacity claims (both past and future) are legitimate and separate heads of damages in tort cases.
Wendy Benstead was injured in a rear-end motor vehicle accident, and consequently was rendered less able to perform some of her usual household chores and yard maintenance activities. As a result, she received extra, gratuitous assistance in the performance of these tasks from her mom (Ms. Miller), husband Paul and son Chad.
The Court's Decision
The Court of Appeal held that it is the loss of the “capacity” to perform household services that is to be compensated. Thus the loss is the loss of the injured party; in the case at bar, Wendy’s loss. Her loss of capacity is to be measured by the services necessarily, albeit voluntarily and gratuitously, rendered to her by Chad, Ms. Miller and her husband Paul...where gratuitous services are provided by a third party, and are reasonably required by the injured party as a result of the tortious conduct of the wrongdoer, the injured party is entitled to claim damages in respect of those services.
Mr. Justice (now ACJQB) John Rooke confirmed in both Thibert v. Zaw-Tun 2006 ABQB 423 and Russell v. Turcott 2009 ABQB 19 that:
The validity of loss of homemaking capacity claims is now clearly established and the approach to such claims is guided by the following four principles:
a) Homemaking services are recognized as having pecuniary value even though they are provided outside the money economy;
b) The loss of homemaking capacity is a loss of the plaintiff himself, not his family;
c) loss of homemaking capacity is compensable even if it is not replaced by purchased services; and
d) Loss of homemaking capacity is compensable even if family members “pick up the slack” and do the missing tasks.
The 2015 McLean v. Parmar case also discusses the "loss of homemaking capacity" compensation category. In her eloquent and scholarly decision, Madam Justice Eidsvik confirms, consistent with clear and binding legal precedent, that loss of homemaking capacity is a head of general damages separate and distinct from, and not to be subsumed by or lumped in with, a general damages award for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
The learned trial judge ruled that a reasonable (indeed conservative) compensation rate for loss of homemaking capacity, for the extra hours of housekeeping/yard maintenance assistance that an injured auto accident victim receives from friends or family members, would be in the sum of $20 per hour.
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