Often, in personal injury cases, the injured party not only loses their ability to work, but also loses their housekeeping capacity either on a short-term or long-term basis. Being unable to do domestic tasks for oneself, such as cooking, housecleaning, and childcare, is a serious inconvenience and hiring outside help for these tasks gets expensive. In personal injury cases where the injured party suffers a loss of housekeeping capacity, they are entitled to compensation for the related expenses.
The inability to carry out any of the following tasks due to injury indicates a loss of housekeeping capacity:
- Washing dishes
- Doing laundry
- Grocery shopping
- Preparing food
ICBC, Part VII & Loss of Housekeeping Capacity Compensation
No matter who is at fault for a car accident, if a person suffers a loss of housekeeping capacity due to personal injury, they are entitled to some compensation for these damages from ICBC under Part VII of the Regulations to the Insurance Vehicle Act. Part VII benefits are commonly referred to as “no-fault benefits” because they are available to the injured party regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This coverage will pay for the cost of hiring someone, other than a family member, to come in and do the work. The maximum coverage available is $280/week. While Regulation 2(84) specifically says that payments will not be made to cover the services of a family member, the British Columbia Supreme Court in a 1992 case called Watson v. ICBC ruled that, if the family member did not reside with the injured person before the accident and comes in specifically to help after the accident, then ICBC must pay.
Although Part VII benefits are easily accessible, they are limited. In practice, many ICBC adjusters resist paying for homemaker services except in serious injury situations as the perception is the adjuster is helping “build” the personal injury claim by acknowledging the claimant’s inability to care for the home. Furthermore, an adjuster will often require the injured person to obtain new or fresh notes from their doctor every few months. Moreover, they will send the injured party to a medical expert of their choice who will often find that the person is no longer disabled from housekeeping duties.
Tort Law & Loss of Housekeeping Capacity Compensation
When settling their claim with ICBC, often a plaintiff will not be provided with a lump sum payment for their future housekeeping costs, even though they are disabled in this regard. ICBC will keep their Part VII benefits open and keep paying for the plaintiff to hire someone to come in and do the work. However, ICBC can always decide that the plaintiff is no longer injured and cut off the benefits. However, if the claim ends up going to trial, the plaintiff’s lawyer can often argue successfully that the person has lost their housekeeping capacity and should be compensated for this loss.
Under British Columbia tort law, an injured plaintiff is entitled to an award for loss of housekeeping capacity, so long as he or she can establish that they are less capable overall of performing such work. The concept behind loss of housekeeping capacity damages is that there is value in the work for which a person doesn’t get paid, to that person and the others in the household who benefit from it. Although ICBC will argue that they will keep the person’s Part VII benefits open in lieu of a lump sum payment, the courts in B.C. have been tending to award lump sum damages, not future care awards (funds for a housekeeper).
If you have been in an accident that was the fault of another party and you think you may be eligible for tort claim compensation to help pay for domestic services or you have any questions about Part VII benefits, speak to a personal injury lawyer today. At Hoogbruin & Company, we work tirelessly to ensure that our clients get the compensation that they deserve.