What does loss of housekeeping services mean?
If your injuries prevented you from performing household duties, you can claim damages under the head of loss of housekeeping services. You can claim both pre-trial loss, and if the injuries will continue to inhibit your housekeeping in the future, you can claim post-trial loss as well.
What is covered?
This head of damage applies to those activities that are performed often without explicit compensation, such as housecleaning, yardwork, and child care. Care for an ailing relative may also be covered. However, the courts do not usually award money for every unscrubbed toilet or missed lawn mowing – if there is only a modest amount, the court will often decline to award separate damages.
How are housekeeping services valued?
These damages are valued at their replacement cost – how much would it have cost to hire someone to do those chores? In recent cases, the courts have valued the cost at $15/hour. If you paid more, you may not be able to recover the full amount.
What if a family member performed the chores?
You can claim these damages even if a family member “picked up the slack” for you, although in that case you may consider an in trust claim. This means that even if you did not hire anyone and do not intend to hire anyone in the future, you may still be entitled to compensation. However, the work done by your family member must go beyond what would normally be expected. If you cannot put dishes away because you can no longer reach the top shelf, you are unlikely to have a claim if your teenage son was able to do this for you until you recovered.
Fastidiousness of the Plaintiff
This claim is somewhat dependent on your pre-accident housekeeping standards – if you kept your house in meticulous condition, your claim will likely be larger than if your pre-accident standard was met by cleaning once a month.
Overlaps with Other Heads of Damages
This head of damages overlaps with several other heads of damages. If you are able to perform the same duties, but you are in pain when you do so, that would be considered a non-pecuniary loss. If a family member performs all your tasks, then you would advance an in trust claim. If you have hired someone to perform cleaning, then you may claim that expense as a special damage. If you need to hire someone to clean your house in the future, that would likely be claimed as a cost of future care.