There are different types of compensation to which an accident victim in a personal injury case may be entitled depending on the severity of the injuries.
General or non-pecuniary damages
An accident victim is entitled to damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. It is based on various factors such as the nature of the injury, the degree of pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, the length of the recovery process, and whether there is likely to be future disability. The amount of compensation in this category is determined based on previous court awards in similar cases.
Past Loss of Income
This is the loss of earnings from the date of the accident until the date the individual returns to work. In the event that the person is unable to return to work, the loss is until the time of the settlement or court award. Income tax and employment insurance premiums are usually deducted from gross income to calculate past loss of income.
Certain documentation such as confirmation of employment, pay stubs, and income tax returns are usually required in order to prove this part of a claim. Situations such as loss of promotion or loss of opportunity to pursue a career because of the accident would require additional proof.
An issue often arises as to whether “collateral benefits” such as disability insurance benefits, employment insurance, or social assistance benefits should be deducted from the claim for lost income. Legal advice from a personal injury lawyer is required in these situations.
A claimant is entitled to reimbursement for out of pocket expenses incurred because of his or her injuries. This would include such things as medication, user fees for treatment by a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or massage therapist, as well as mileage or transportation costs to medical treatment, etc.
In certain cases, an injured person will also be entitled to recover compensation on behalf of family members for providing services such as home care for the injured person, but only if the services provided were beyond the normal things that family members would ordinarily do for each other.
Impaired Earning Capacity
A serious injury may result in loss of future income particularly if there is a permanent disability. It is not necessary to prove that a loss of future income is certain or even “probable,” only that there is a “real possibility” that the loss may occur.
Often as a result of a serious injury, a person may not be able to pursue a career path that otherwise would have been open to the person, or it may be delayed or compromised as a result of the injury.
Cost of Future Care
There may be future expenses for which an injured party will have to be compensated for in a settlement or a court award. Examples would be the cost of medication, medical treatment and therapy, nursing care, and even home, workplace, and vehicle modifications to allow a severely injured person to live independently as much as possible.
Of course, these expenses must be medically justified and would arise in the case of serious injury. An occupational or rehabilitation consultant can assess the needs of the injured party. An economist could then provide the “present value” of these future expenses.
No Fault Benefits
Regardless of fault for an accident in this province, if certain conditions are met, an injured person is entitled to benefits from ICBC for such things as partial income replacement, medical treatment, rehabilitation, retraining, as well as other specified benefits. The maximum lifetime amount of no fault benefits to which a person is entitled for medical and rehabilitation expenses is $150,000.
Death benefits and funeral expenses are also payable to the family of a deceased in the case of a fatal accident.