When the Homemaker Is Injured

When the Homemaker Is Injured

When the Homemaker Is Injured


When you have been injured, receiving money can never really compensate for the pain you’ve suffered and the experiences you’ve lost, but it can often help to make your family’s life more comfortable. In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff makes a claim for lost wages, and/or for loss of future income. But what if the person who was injured doesn’t have conventional employment? What if the injury victim has been the family’s homemaker, and/or a stay-at-home parent providing childcare? Can you make a claim if this has been your role? Thankfully, the answer is “yes.” Canadian law recognizes that the work of a homemaker and/or stay-at-home parent is valuable. In the landmark 1994 case McLaren v. Schwalbe, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench judge stated that the functions performed by a homemaker defy description, since they are both labour and management! The judge also asserted that simply because a homemaker’s services are unpaid does not mean that they cannot be valued -- and that this loss may be reflected in a damage award. 


But how can the work of a homemaker be evaluated? There are two factors that will be taken into consideration:


  • The economic value of the household services usually performed by the plaintiff.
  • The earning potential of the plaintiff, based on earnings made outside the home previous to becoming a homemaker (if this applies,) and for loss of future income based on his/her education, experience and background, if they will be unable to go back to work as they had intended.


Each case can be evaluated according to specifics, but there are some principles that apply to all cases. First, as the Alberta judge noted, housekeeping services have value. Second, any claim must be brought by the plaintiff who has lost the capacity to do the work, and not by family members (even though family members may be the ones who are forced to take over household duties.) Even if you do not hire people to do the services that the plaintiff used to provide, the claim is still compensable. And finally, even if the plaintiff is able to resume his/her duties, if they experience pain or loss of efficiency, this may be taken into consideration when damages are awarded.


Evaluating Your Case


The advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer is critical to any claim for homemaker compensation. A lawyer who has handled this type of case before will know how to evaluate the plaintiff’s work, and how to negotiate with the defendant’s counsel. The types of things a good lawyer will assess are:


  • Monetary value of household services. A lawyer can help to put a monetary value on how much it would cost to hire a nanny, hire a maid, take children to and from school and lessons, etc. Again, it doesn’t matter if the plaintiff will actually be hiring someone to do these things or not. If the plaintiff cannot do these tasks, someone will need to fill in, whether it is an overburdened spouse who takes time off work, or another family member who gives up his/her time. Some of the areas an experienced lawyer will consider are:
    • Childcare
    • Household management
    • Cooking
    • Cleaning
    • Grocery shopping
    • Record keeping/bill paying
    • Transportation
    • Home maintenance
    • Pet care


      If the plaintiff had work outside the home previous to his/her work as a homemaker, the lawyer will also consider:


  • Plaintiff’s education. What was he/she trained for?


  • Plaintiff’s work history. Where did the plaintiff work before becoming a homemaker? How much did he/she earn annually?


  • Plaintiff’s intentions before the accident occurred. Was the plaintiff intending to return to work outside the home?


  • Plaintiff’s field of employment. If the injuries are long-term, your lawyer will consider future lost income. What could the plaintiff be expected to earn in his/her field? What would he/she earn in five years, with promotions? In ten years? What has he/she lost in pension earnings?


  • Difference in wages. If the plaintiff is able to work, but can no longer do the job he/she trained for, the lawyer may calculate the difference between what the plaintiff is able to earn now and what he/she might have earned before the accident occurred.


Contact a Personal Injury Law Firm


If you were injured in an accident and are unable to look after your children, manage your household, or do other homemaking tasks that you normally would have performed, you may be eligible for compensation. Most personal injury law firms offer a free first consultation, during which you may explain your situation to a lawyer and get advice about the options that are open to you. In addition, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that they don’t get paid until you get paid; instead they receive a percentage of the damages recovered.


Just because you are the homemaker of the family doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to compensation if you have been injured in an accident. Contact a personal injury law firm today and learn more about filing a claim.