Claimant’s fiancé and mother receive $14,000 for their assistance that went beyond the normal ‘give and take’ in a family

Ms. Fletcher (née Rutter) was in an mva in 2007 from which she suffered chronic neck & lower back strain.

She lived with her fiancé. After her accident, her mother came to stay with them for the first 3-4 months & helped to take care of Ms. F’s needs.

Her lawyer argued that her mother & fiancé should be compensated for:

  • driving Ms. F to appointments,
  • grocery shopping and
  • household tasks (laundry, meals, and other day-today needs as required)

Madam Justice Watchuk issued her reasons for judgment on March 31, 2016. She awarded:

  • $8,000 in trust for Ms. F’s mother &
  • $6,000 in trust for her then fiancé.

The judge concluded that that the assistance provided during the first four months, especially from Ms. F’s mother:

  • was more than what would reasonably be expected from family members and
  • exceeded the normal “give and take” by a mother of an adult to her child which is necessarily part of family life.

The court can order compensation to an injured claimant’s family & friends for their:

  • reasonable expenses,
  • wage loss and
  • time, even if the helper had no wage loss (this was the case here with Ms. F’s mother since she was retired from her job).

However they must provide services to the claimant that are useful and exceed what would reasonably be expected from them considering their relationship to the claimant,

This category of damages is called an “in trust” claim because the award is made to the claimant in the lawsuit. She or he is to receive the money “in trust” & give it to the persons who provided the services.
If friends or relatives of an injured claimant wish to make such a claim they should:

  1. Keep detailed notes in a table they create in Word of all the services they provide to the claimant. The table should have the following five columns:
    – date of service,
    – time spent in 1/10th hour (6 minute) increments,
    – wages lost that day,
    – services provided that day (create abbreviations for each type of service),
    – comments;
  2. Complete the table on the same day or the day after providing each service & not amend anything in the table later. This helps to establish that the notes are reliable;
  3. Obtain strong & clear supporting proof of their loss of income during each period they were helping the claimant.
  4. Be ready to establish that their services went above and beyond what they would have done for the friend or family member as part of the normal give and take of their particular relationship with the claimant.

Ms. F presented the judge at trial with a spreadsheet she prepared with dates on which “Mom drove” (23 trips) and “Fiancé Drove” (24 trips) during the first four months after her accident.

See Rutter v Adams, 2016 BCSC 554