In this twelve-part blog series, personal injury lawyers Bree Hankins and Adrienne Staley discuss important steps to follow after a motor vehicle accident and what you need to know about making a personal injury claim. Part 10 focuses on types of compensation for your injuries after a motor vehicle accident.
Part 10: What types of Compensation do I get for my injury?
When we talk about compensation for your injuries, there are different categories under which you may be compensated for the injuries you suffered in an accident. We refer to these as heads of damage. There are a number of different types of heads of damages, under which you may be entitled to receive compensation for your loss. The purpose of damages is to restore a person to the position they were in had the accident not happened. Unfortunately, we do not have a time machine and we cannot go back and stop the accident from happening or prevent you from being injured. Therefore, our legal system uses money to compensate people for the injuries and losses they have suffered. In this post, we will discuss the remaining three types of compensation, wage loss (both past and future), future cost of care, and special damages.
Wage loss is separated into two categories: past and future. Past wage loss covers the work you missed because of the injuries you suffered in the accident. However you cannot just say you missed work, you have to prove that you missed work because of your injuries and treatment and how much money you lost because of it. Therefore, it is important to keep track of the days and or hours of work you missed and why.
If you are unable to return to your previous employment, but you have the ability to work in some capacity, you have a duty to mitigate your losses. You will need to discuss your abilities with your doctor and your employer and try to find work that you are able to do with your injuries. ICBC will cover part of your lost wages if you are unable to work immediately after work through TTD benefits. Please see part 3 of our blog series for more information on TTD benefits.
If you have a permanent injury or ongoing symptoms and you are unable to work the same job or earn the same amount as prior to the accident, then you may have a future loss of income or a future loss of earning capacity. Determining what will happen in the future is difficult and the courts often refer to it as “crystal ball gazing.” However we can make educated guesses to determine what would be reasonable with respect to your future loss of earning capacity. If, due to your injuries, you have been rendered less capable of earning income and you are less marketable, but you are still able to work, you may have a claim for loss of earning capacity to compensate you for the fact that due to your injuries you will not be able to earn as much income as you did before the accident.
Another head of damage that is considered “crystal ball gazing” is future cost of care. If you require future treatment, or ongoing treatment, you may be entitled to be compensated for those expenses into the future. In order to prove that you will require future care and treatment, the treatment must be determined to be medically necessary. While it would be great for someone to pay you to have a massage once a week for the rest of your life, unless it is deemed to be medically necessary for your injuries, then it is unlikely you will be compensated for it. However if you have suffered an injury to a joint, and it is likely that you will require surgery in the future then the costs associated with that, including physical therapy and home care can be covered.
Similar to future cost of care, the money you have spent to treat your injuries will be reimbursed as special damages. Special damages are out-of-pocket expenses that you have incurred as a result of your injuries. As discussed in part 4 of our blog series ICBC will pay for some out-of-pocket expenses related to your injuries under Part 7 benefits. However Part 7 benefits do not cover all of your expenses. Therefore, it is important for you to keep your receipts for these expenses to ensure that you are compensated for them when you claim is settled.