Women's Work: Who Cares?
University of Sydney - Faculty of Law
July, 23 2008
Sydney Law Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 86-105, 1992
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/80
This article considers the gendered nature of the legal discourses that emerge from courts' decision-making about damages assessments. It looks particularly at the costs that are incurred when women - and it is usually women: the wives, mothers and other female relatives of accident victims - take on the care of accident victims and considers how if at all those costs should be factored into an assessment of damages for the person injured by someone else's negligence. The High Court of Australia decided in 1977 in Griffiths v Kerkemeyer that damages could be awarded in respect of the costs of care, but since that time, a number of decisions and statutory modifications had limited the scope of that judgment. This discussion examines how that winding back relies upon assumptions about what goes on in households, and locates the issue into the context of the gendered nature of caring work. In particular, it draws attention to the ways in which because caring work is 'women's work' - even where it is done by men - that work is devalued and this has serious consequences for the lives of accident victims dependant on that care.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: tort law, feminist legal scholarship, personal injury damages assessment, gender, family relationships
JEL Classification: K10, K13, K30
Date posted: July 23, 2008
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