When accidents happen, victims are often primarily concerned about the impact of their injuries on paid employment. However unpaid activities, such as housework and lawn care, often suffer as well. In this post, we explain four primary principles behind making a claim for the loss of capacity to perform unpaid services.
1. Homemaking Services Have an Economic Value
Even though a great deal of household work is provided outside the money economy, it still has an economic value that can be calculated. People with injuries preventing them from shopping, cooking, cleaning, yard care, and maintenance may be left with no choice but to pay someone else to perform these duties while they recover.
The replacement value of these services can be determined by looking at the marketplace, to find out what a reasonable “going rate” is. Personal injury lawyers may recruit economists or occupational therapists to do these market evaluations, and provide expert evidence to support the value of these losses.
2. The Claim Belongs To the Plaintiff, Not Their Family
Injured people tend to rely heavily on their family members to do household work after an accident. They may have a partner or children take over some, or all, of their responsibilities when they are in pain, or incapacitated. Unfortunately, some victims can never get back to their full pre-accident duties.
Family members who pick up this burden, however, are not entitled to bring claims of their own. Only the injured person is entitled to compensation for their loss of capacity to do the work. It will be up to the injured person to decide what to do with any compensation they ultimately receive.
3. The Loss of Capacity Is Compensable, Even If Replaced by Unpaid Help
Accident victims do not have to hire professional housekeeping services in order to bring a claim for their loss of capacity. If friends or family members perform the work without charging for those services, it is important to keep track of what they are doing, and when. This information, combined with our experts’ market value assessment of the services, is very helpful when calculating the value of a loss of housekeeping capacity claim.
4. Pain and Loss of Efficiency With Housekeeping Should Also Be Considered
Many injured people eventually resume their housekeeping activities, but with greater pain or difficulty post-accident. In that situation, there is no economic loss to calculate, because the work is being done. Courts may assign a “non-pecuniary” value to these damages, often classified as a sub-category of the general damages award for pain and suffering.