If you are injured in an accident, managing seemingly easy household chores and basic aspects of personal care can become challenging so much so that you may need someone else’s help. This could range from help with cleaning your home to help with bathing yourself. It can be very difficult and feel invasive to have such aspects of personal care provided by a stranger. As a result, many people come to rely on their family and friends. However, whereas the cost of private care services would be compensable, ICBC often sees no value in those same services being provided by your loved ones. In ICBC’s mind, the efforts of those who care for you in assisting with your recovery are a gift. Since you did not actually pay them, they aren’t entitled to anything for their efforts.
Fortunately, our courts have held that such services can have a value worthy of financial recognition.
In the recent case of James v. James, 2018 BCSC 907, a 71 year old female was injured in an accident when the driver of the vehicle she was a passenger in lost control and crashed. She suffered fractures to her neck and lower back, fractured ribs and a severe traumatic brain injury with intracranial bleeding. Sadly, her injuries rendered her an incomplete quadriplegic She was hospitalized for 6 weeks before being transferred to a rehabilitation centre where she spent the next 3 months. She subsequently required significant assistance with her daily living. She was not able to grocery shop, prepare meals, bathe herself or perform numerous other aspects of personal care. In an attempt to preserve her dignity and maintain her privacy and as much normalcy in her life as possible, she chose to rely more upon her husband and step-daughter than private caregivers.
At trial, the plaintiff claimed an in-trust award to recognize the much-needed services provided by her family members. Despite the serious nature of the plaintiff’s injuries and her obvious need for assistance, ICBC disagreed with the scope and value of the services claimed by the plaintiff.
In accepting the plaintiff’s claim, the court determined that personal caregiver support was required by the plaintiff as a direct result of the injuries she suffered in the accident and that the level of support she received was far above what would be normally expected of family. In determining what an appropriate award would be, the court considered the cost of having those same services provided by a professional care provider. In this case, the care required by the plaintiff amounted to $300 per day. Extrapolated from the date of the accident to the date of the trial, the court awarded the plaintiff $345,000 for the care services provided by her family members.