Regardless of the type of injury you have sustained, it can have a large impact on your life. Injuries are first and foremost painful and limiting, but this can have far-reaching consequences. Not only could you be prevented from effectively performing your job, but you may also be unable to perform activities you are typically responsible for at home. This ripple effect can often extend to those around you, with friends and family members modifying their roles and responsibilities in order to accommodate your post-accident limitations.
Help from friends and family
There are many ways friends and family members support someone who is injured. This may include caring for you, driving you to and from appointments, taking over the household chores you are no longer able to do, or caring for your children while you are out of commission.
Entitled to compensation for the help provided
There is an old Latin term that captures the type of assistance we are discussing in this post: Quantum meruit. The term means “as much as he has earned”. It considered the work performed by those in a support system. In the case of an injury claim, the support system under review is that of the injury victim.
Those in the support system have been called up to perform additional work or services because of the restrictions and limitations experienced by the injury victim.
Quantum meruit is a recognized head of damage in a personal injury claim and should be considered in every case.
Assessing the value of support from Friends and Family
Typically, friends and family end up performing additional work to make up for the decreased ability of their loved ones to do so when they are injured. It is important to segregate help and support that can be expected because of the relationship between the injury victim and the supporter, and those services that truly go beyond what can be expected.
The efforts that would not have occurred “but for” the accident is compensated as part of the injury claim process by advancing head of loss for quantum meruit.
When assessing the value of a claim, the court will consider three main elements:
- The type of contribution
- The time of contributions
- The significance of the supporters’ assistance.
The type of contribution
The court will consider just how much was done by the supporters. Perhaps friends and family were engaged in cooking, cleaning, and errands. Some tasks are more intensive than others in terms of time and effort. The court should consider higher level awards for those who are engaging in more challenging or onerous demands.
The time of contributions
Consider how long it takes in the run of a week to prepare meals. What about doing laundry and picking up around the home. Friends and family are often helping someone close to them after an injury to perform basic tasks. Many of our clients report that they have someone doing grocery runs for them, while other supporters are preparing meals throughout the week. There is often considerable time spent by the friends and family who assist an injury victim. The vast majority of supporters do not expect to be paid – the assist because it is the right thing to do.
Despite the fact that the supporters were not paid for their efforts, the court should be called upon to make an award in their favour.
For those friends and family that have been paid a token a-, an award under quantum meruit should still be advanced to make up what went unpaid.
The significance of the supporters assistance
The court will likely put additional weight on the value of efforts that are truly exceptional. In some cases, supports are providing home care services which includes rather personal care. In other cases, the supporter suffers a detriment because of their obligation to help the injury victim.
No matter the individual circumstances of the injury victim or the supporter, the principal behind quantum meruit should be made clear to the at-fault party’s insurer. If there have been efforts that would not have occurred “but for” the negligence of someone else, exceptional efforts by friend and family should be appropriately compensated.
There is limited guidance available to assist in the quantification of quantum meruit. Generally, it is based on what is deemed fair compensation for the amount of work put in by members of an injured person’s support system. It is important to be meticulous and detailed in your assessment, and for this, open communication with family members on this subject is important. We find that family members often gloss over their contributions after the accident, as they feel it is their duty to step up, and not compensable damage. While this is an honourable notion, the opposite should be done in order to properly quantify and value your claim. It is important to ensure mistakes in communication don’t get in between you and receiving your rightful award in damages.
How do I claim compensation for my efforts?
It is important to note that friends and family of those injured in an accident do not have a claim against the Defendant in their own right. The best way for them to receive compensation for the impact of the injury on their life is through quantum meruit. This compensates for these effects by awarding damages directly to the injured person, which can be held in trust for their family member or friend who performed the services considered quantum meruit. It is therefore important that the actual impact on friends and family is assessed to ensure these losses are compensated.
In our experience, most injury claimants undervalue the quantum meruit claim made in conjunction with their demand for compensation due to injuries. We find that many clients fail to consider tasks around the home that are performed in other seasons, while others fail to recognize the full extent of the support that their friends and family members have provided. Our firm always recommends to our clients that they speak with their family and friends about changes in their lives following the accident. We often receive reports from clients that they failed to consider various substantial contributions made by others! Of course, these omissions can be corrected if the claim has not yet been settled.
Why is Quantum Meruit Important?
There are many examples of courts awarding substantial sums for quantum meruit. These decisions demonstrate the importance of assessing all the ways that your injury has impacted your life, beyond pain and suffering. Even in cases where injuries are determined to be minor, courts recognize the significant impact they can have on those around you. So long as the injury claim is properly constructed and evidence is gathered, the court should be in a position to award compensation for quantum meruit.
Speak to a Lawyer about Quantum Meruit
If you have questions regarding quantum meruit, and how it may affect the value of your claim, it is best to speak to a personal injury lawyer directly.
Jeff Mitchell is Principal Lawyer and Founder of NOVA Injury Law. Jeff has dedicated his practice to the area of personal injury, accident, and disability benefits law. Contact 1.800.262.8104 or [email protected] to arrange for a free case review today.