A woman who lost her daughter to a fatal 2011 car crash on the Island Highway has been awarded nearly $50,000 for lost household services.
In a decision delivered June 29 in Vancouver, the B.C. Supreme Court ordered the estate of the deceased girl’s father to pay $42,000 under the Family Compensation Act for care the girl would have provided her mother, as well as an additional $7,016.56 in special damages.
The Family Compensation Act allows the family of an individual killed through the actions or negligence of another to seek damages commensurate with their economic loss.
The daughter, identified in court documents only as M.B., was born in Comox and spent her early years living there and near Nanaimo. She was 12 when the car her father was driving on Oct. 16, 2011 crossed the centre lane and collided head-on with another vehicle, killing father and daughter, as well as the driver of the other vehicle.
The mother and father had been separated for about six years at the time of the death. MB had been living with her mother in Mexico shortly before the accident, but had recently moved back to the Island to stay with her grandparents and attend school in Comox.
The father’s estate admitted his liability in the crash. The mother, who suffers from lupus, testified her daughter intended to become a nurse, in part to provide nursing services for her mother.
She testified her daughter would have continued to help with day-to-day tasks such as getting out of the tub or making lunch, before eventually attending university and becoming a nurse like her grandmother, at which point she would be able to provide more substantial care.
When considering the case, Justice Kenneth Ball weighed the difficulty of determining what life path a 12-year-old girl may have followed, and how much care she would have been able to provide for her mother, who now lives in Boston Bar. He referred to relevant cases that had resulted in awards of between $20,000 and $100,000, but remarked on the scarcity of case law in relation to a person of such a young age.
“The plaintiff in the present case seeks damages for loss of household services in the range of $250,000 to $500,000. This range is wholly inconsistent with the vast range of contingencies to be applied against such a claim and wholly inconsistent with any other cases dealing with the death of a child in this jurisdiction,” he wrote in his decision.
“Nonetheless, I am satisfied that the evidence supports a finding that M.B. would have provided a certain amount of assistance to the plaintiff, which requires compensation.”
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