Daly v General Steam Navigation Co Ltd

[1981] 1 WLR 120; [1981] 1 WLR 120;

[1980] 3 All ER 696; [1980] 2 Lloyd's Rep 415; (1981) 125 SJ 100

PERSONAL INJURY, DAMAGES, CALCULATION, LOSS OF EARNINGS, FUTURE LOSS, AWARD OF DAMAGES, PROPER MEASURE FOR DAMAGES,

COST OF EMPLOYING DOMESTIC HELP

Facts

The plaintiff who was a housewife, was a passenger in the defendant’s vessel. She was injured in an accident and had to be treated over a long period of time both in and out of hospital. The plaintiff became partially incapable of undertaking her housekeeping duties and ran her home with the assistance of her husband who lost £930 from part-time employment earnings as a result. The plaintiff did not employ home help. Altogether, she was awarded £21 116 in damages, including £2,691 for her current partial loss of housekeeping capacity, £8,736 for her future partial loss of housekeeping capacity and £8,000 for pain, suffering and loss of amenity. The defendants appealed the awards for loss of housekeeping capacity.

Issues

(1) Is the award for future partial loss of housekeeping capacity a proper measure of the damages to the plaintiff caused by the injury, given that she might not use this award to remedy her partial loss of housekeeping capacity?

(2) What is the correct measure for the current loss of housekeeping capacity of the plaintiff – the cost of employing home help or her husband’s lost earnings?

Held

The appeal was dismissed.

(1) The award for the future partial loss of housekeeping capacity is the proper measure of the damages for the future partial loss of housekeeping capacity even if the award might not be used for that purpose.

(2) Applying Donnelly v Joyce [1973] QB 454, the plaintiff is entitled to claim her husband’s loss of income despite the fact that he does not have a direct cause of action against the defendant. The correct measure for the current loss of housekeeping capacity is the income that the plaintiff’s husband lost, not the cost of employing someone to provide home help, which the plaintiff did not do.