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What is the Loss of Housekeeping Capacity in a Personal Injury Case?

By Matt Lalande in Hamilton Personal Injury Lawyer, Personal Injury on September 05, 2023

What is the Loss of Housekeeping Capacity in a Personal Injury Case?

Compensation for Housekeeping and Home Maintenance Capacity Losses after an Serious Accident

A serious accident can have ramifications far beyond immediate physical pain and medical treatment; it can significantly disrupt an individual’s ability to maintain the inside and ourside of their home. Housekeeping and home maintenance are essential daily and periodic tasks that require varying degrees of physical and cognitive effort. Serious injuries can compromise a person’s capacity to handle chores like cleaning, cooking, yard work, and even basic home repairs.

The ramifications of such interruptions can be profound, leading not only to a deteriorating living environment but also compounding the emotional stress already brought on by the trauma of the accident. Fortunately, Canadian law recognizes this loss as an asset and allows a plaintiff to claim compensation to help remedy their situation in these circumstances. It is compensation which is similarly categorized as part of a victim’s claim along with other damages such as pain and suffering and wage losses.

In other words, if an accident victim is unable to perform indoor and outdoor housekeeping tasks to the extent which he or she could following an accident and needs have to rely on others to perform some or all of these tasks – that person can be entitled to compensation to help fund replacement services. In most cases, the compensation will be limited to the costs associated with the place or residence where the injured plaintiff lived at the time of the accident, but it may also include the costs of another residence (for instance if the plaintiff was required to move because she was no longer able to climb stairs after the accident and lived on the second floor).

In general, some housekeeping capacity losses can include:

  • Snow removal
  • Salting
  • Gardening
  • Cleaning the home
  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Taking out the trash
  • Basic home repairs (replacing light bulbs, tightening screws, installing or repairing shelving)
  • Raking the leaves
  • Cutting the grass
  • Cleaning eves troughs
  • Trimming hedges
  • Dusting
  • Vacuuming
  • Mopping floors
  • Wiping down mirrors
  • Scrubbing the sink
  • Scrubbing the bathtubs and showers
  • Wash down Baseboards
  • Hanging Christmas lights

There are just examples but as you can see – the list never ends.

How will a Trial Court Recognize and Accident Victim’s Loss of Housekeeping and Home Maintance Capacity?

Our Court of Appeal, in McIntyre v. Docherty, has recognized three ways in which a plaintiff will “cope” with their inability to complete their pre-accident housekeeping services:

First, the plaintiff may leave some or all of the housekeeping undone. For example, where the injured plaintiff is unable to perform some or all housekeeping tasks, and where a third party does not do the work in the injured person’s stead, work will be left undone.

Second, the plaintiff may perform some or all of the housekeeping functions, but with increased pain and decreased efficiency. For example, a plaintiff may continue to undertake housekeeping, but may experience pain or difficulty in doing so, as did the plaintiff in this case. She or he may be required to work more hours post-accident to accomplish the same amount of pre-accident housekeeping. If a plaintiff thus works “inefficiently”, her or his non-pecuniary award (for pain and suffering) would be increased to reflect any increased pain and suffering. To the extent the plaintiff’s inefficiency also results in a less clean and organized household, this is the loss of an amenity that the award for non-pecuniary damages would also take into account.

Third, the plaintiff may rely on paid or unpaid third parties on a part or full-time basis to perform some or all of the housekeeping. The law is well established that where a plaintiff incurs a pre-trial out-of-pocket loss by hiring a replacement homemaker, the plaintiff may claim the reasonable replacement cost of that homemaker as special damages. Similarly, if there is evidence that the plaintiff agreed or was otherwise obliged to compensate a third party for services rendered pre-trial, the plaintiff may claim that amount as special damages.

What’s the Burden of Proof which an Accident Victim is Required to Meet in a Loss of Housekeeping Capacity Claim?

For a future housekeeping loss of capacity claim, you are able to recover ongoing or future expenses and losses which will either continue or be incurred after the date of your settlement or trial. These future expenses are calculated based on expert (typically an occupational therapist) or other cogent evidence about the expected losses or extraordinary costs that you will likely occur throughout your lifetime as a result of your injuries. In most cases, our Hamilton Personal Injury Lawyers retain the services of an occupational therapist who will complete an in depth home assessment and medical review to determine the extent of a client’s housekeeping losses and provide a full and complete report which identifies an injured victim’s loss of capacity to care for their home in and outdoors.

Then the report would be quantified by an actuary to determine the exact monetary loss you might be facing as you age because you cannot care for your home as you did prior to your accident.

In 1977, the Ontario Court of Appeal held in the case of Schrump et. al. v. Koot et. al., that when claiming future losses the plaintiff must only prove that there is a substantial possibility that the loss or damage will occur. The standard therefore is not on a balance of probabilities, but there must only be a substantial possibility – or i.e. it’s more possible than not.

What’s a Present Value Discount and why does it need to be Applied to Future Lump Sum Awards?

Future losses are paid as a lump sum at settlement or trial, so it is necessary to calculate the present-day value of the anticipated future losses and expenses. In simple terms, a “present value discount” is a way to determine how much a sum of money expected in the future is worth right now. When future losses are paid as a lump sum in a settlement, the amount is often reduced to account for the idea that money available today can be invested and grow over time. So, instead of giving you the full amount you’d get in the future, they give you its “present value,” which is typically less. It’s like saying, “If I gave you this smaller amount today, and you invested it wisely, it could grow to the amount you would have received in the future.”

Have you Suffered Life Changing Injuries in an Accident? If so, Call our Hamilton Accident Lawyers Today.

If you’ve suffered life changing injuries in a car accident, motorcycle accident, trucking accident, bicycle accident or as a pedestrian it’s important that you speak to a Hamilton Car Accident Lawyer about your legal rights to compensation. Matt Lalande and his firm has been representing accident victims not only in Hamilton, but all over Ontario since 2003 and has recovered millions in compensation. We would be happy to explain your rights to you for free – including all facets of compensation which you may be entitled to – as well your entitlement to compensation for your lost housekeeping and home maintenance capacity.

Call us today, no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local in Hamilton and throughout Southern Ontario at 905-333-8888. Alternatively, you can email us confidentially through our website or chat 24/7 with our live chat operator.

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