Have you been injured in a motor vehicle accident that wasn’t your fault? You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses, but how much compensation are you entitled to? Our Kamloops personal injury lawyers walk you through determining what your claim is worth.
The goal of compensating an injured person is to put them back into the position they would have been in if the accident hadn’t happened. In most cases, since the pain or disability can’t be taken away, an appropriate amount of money, or ‘damages,’ is awarded.
An award for damages is generally broken down into various categories, referred to as ‘heads of damages.’ The heads of damage, which we discuss below, are General Damages, Income Loss, Special Damages and Future Care.
1. General Damages
General damages (also called non-pecuniary damages) are intended to compensate an injured person for their pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. The range for general damages can go from as little as $1,000 to as high as what is known as the ‘rough upper limit.’
The rough upper limit increases with inflation and is currently at approximately $375,000. Awards approaching the rough upper limit are reserved for individuals who have sustained catastrophic injuries, such as paraplegia or quadriplegia.
There are a number of factors that will be taken into consideration when determining the appropriate amount for a general damages award. These factors commonly include:
- the nature, severity, and duration of the injuries
- the resulting disability
- the emotional suffering resulting from the injuries
- the extent to which enjoyment of life has been impaired
Sometimes our personal injury lawyers meet with new clients who have heard stories of significant compensation and hope for the same, so we remind them that due to these factors two individuals with the exact same injury may receive very different awards for general damages.
For example, a concert pianist who has lost a finger in an accident will have suffered a far greater loss than a professional soccer player with the same injury. At the same time, a professional soccer player who has suffered a broken ankle in an accident will likely have suffered a far greater loss than the concert pianist. No case is the same. While the courts often use similar cases as a guide for an award, each individual case is assessed on its own merits.
2. Income Loss
If your ability to work and earn income has been compromised by injuries sustained in an accident, you will be entitled to damages for lost income as well. Income loss is often broken down further into:
- past income loss
- future income loss
Past income loss is the amount of income you have lost on account of your injuries dating from the accident up until damages are assessed (whether that assessment be a settlement with ICBC or a judgment at trial).
Future income loss is the amount of income you are expected to lose from the day damages are assessed and onwards. Making an assessment of future income loss can be very difficult as, in most cases, it requires predicting the future. However, it’s not impossible. Generally, experts in medicine and economics are hired by your personal injury lawyer to assist with the assessment.
3. Special Damages
Special damages are the out-of-pocket expenses that an injured person incurs as a result of injuries. They often include items such as costs of massage therapy, physiotherapy, medications, counseling, housekeeping assistance, etc.
4. Future Care
Future care generally refers to out-of-pocket expenses the injured person is expected to incur from the date of the assessment of damages forward. It will generally be awarded for items that are deemed to be reasonable and necessary.
These are the main heads of damages that injured people may be entitled to be compensated, but this isn’t an exhaustive list.
Have you been injured in a motor vehicle accident and want to know how much your claim might be worth? Visit Gillespie’s personal injury lawyers in Kamloops for a free consultation so we can learn more about your situation and give insight into what your claim might be worth.