Courts may make an in-trust award for damages to compensate the injured person’s individual family members for housework, nursing and domestic assistance they have provided to the injured person. An in-trust award of damages differs from an award for housekeeping capacity since the in-trust award is directed at compensating the person performing the service, rather than the injured person.
Claims for the performance of household duties by the immediate family of the claimant in a personal injury action are allowed when the injured person establishes that the need for the services results from the injuries sustained by the claimant. The family member must either have experienced direct economic loss because of the time and effort that went into performing duties for the claimant, or the family member’s efforts must have resulted in the replacement of expenses which would otherwise have been incurred, such as hiring a housekeeper. It is important to keep in mind that, in order to be compensable, the housework provided by the family member must have gone beyond the normal “give and take” of housework that family members generally provide for each other and that would have been provided in any event of the injury. The ultimate value of the housekeeping services provided is generally based on what the cost would be of hiring someone to perform such services, taking into account the time spent on the services and nature of the services provided.