Hoovering as a Hobby and Other Stories: Gendered Assessments of Personal Injury Damages
University of Sydney - Faculty of Law
July, 23 2008
University of British Columbia Law Review, Vol. 31, pp. 17-35, 1997
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/76
This discussion draws upon the author's long standing research interest in the gendered aspects of personal injury damages assessment. It questions how courts have valued (or not valued) women's work in the home when injury has diminished their capacity to undertake it. It looks particularly at three different issues that give rise to gendered questions of damages assessment. First, if women's injuries impair or destroy their capacity to engage in paid work, how is that loss compensated? Secondly, how does the law deal with women's loss or destruction of capacity to do work in the home, work that is rarely if ever seen as having economic value? And finally, how does the law respond to women's work as the carers of accident victims? The discussion highlights ways in which stereotypical views and false assumptions about women and work pervade the assessment of damages for personal injury. For example, it explores the ways in which women's paid work is often presented (in judgments) as somehow competing with or as incompatible with other aspects of their lives and roles they were expected to fulfil. It suggests that what might seem to be formally gender-neutral rules and legal principles can actually disadvantage women, using as an example the use of actuarial tables that themselves reflect gendered and racialised inequities.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: personal injury damages assessment, tort law, gender, women's work, legal-decision-making, gender bias, loss of earning capacity, caring work, feminist legal scholarship
JEL Classification: K10, K30Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: July 23, 2008
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