IN AN ACTION TO RECOVER FOR PERSONAL INJURIES TO A CHILD, SPECIAL DAMAGES INCLUDE THE REASONABLE VALUE OF HOME ATTENDANT CARE PROVIDED BY THE CHILD’S PARENTS
The defense cannot bring up the quality of the care given to the minor by the parents in order to reduce the damages. The parents are entitled to reimbursement for the reasonable value of attendant care provided directly from the brain damaged child under the minor Plaintiff’s cause of action for economic damages. In an action to recover for personal injuries to a child, special damages include the reasonable value of home attendant care provided by the child’s parents.
In the case of Hanif v. Housing Authority (1988) 200 Cal. App.3d 635, the Court of Appeal held that, “It is established that the reasonable value of nursing services required by the defendant’s tortious conduct may be recovered from the defendant even though the services were rendered by members of the injured person’s family and without an agreement or expectation of payment. Where services in the way of attendance and nursing were rendered by a member of the Plaintiff’s family, the amount for which the defendant is liable is the amount for which reasonably competent nursing and attendance by others could have been obtained.” (Id. at 644.)
In the case of Rodriguez v. McDonald Douglas Corporation (1978) 87 Cal. App.3d 626, the Plaintiff was entitled to recover the reasonable value of 24-hour home attendant care provided by his spouse and necessitated by the defendant’s tortious conduct. The Court held that,
“We reject the premise that the cost of attendant care, past or future, should not have been an item for consideration by the jury because of the presence of (the Plaintiff’s wife). It is not part of her duties as a wife to render 24-hour-a-day attendant care.” (Id. at p. 661.)
Thus, in this case, any attendant care provided by the parents in the past or which could be provided in the future must be compensated for at the reasonable rate which would be charged by a competent nursing attendant. Based upon evidence and testimony of various witnesses, the jury can properly determine the cost of such attendant care, regardless of who would provide it.
Since the parents would be obligated to provide a certain level of care to a minor child in the absence of any injury or negligent conduct by the defendants, the only issue which must be determined by the jury is the amount of extraordinary care which has been required in the past and will be required in the future for the minor Plaintiff.
Based upon the testimony of the several experts who will testify in this case, that amount of extraordinary care , as well as the reasonable cost for that care, can easily be determined by the jury and is a proper jury function. It is irrelevant that the defendant will claim that parents or relatives have an obligation to care for any child since that obligation extends only to basic care and not to the extraordinary care required for this minor Plaintiff.
The reasonable value of nursing services required by the Plaintiff may be recovered from the defendant even though some services were rendered by members of the injured person’s family and without an agreement or expectation of payment.
Where services in the way of attendance and nursing were rendered or maybe rendered by a member of the Plaintiff’s family, reasonably competent nursing and attendance by others could have been obtained.
The recognized measure for such attendant care is the prevailing market rate for those who perform such services. Accordingly, plaintiff’s parent’s relative lack of skill in professional home nursing is irrelevant.
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