Most people realize that if they are injured in a motor vehicle accident and someone else is at fault, they are entitled to be compensated for their losses. The losses are paid from the insurance policy of the person who is at fault for the accident. Prior to concluding an injury claim with ICBC, it is important to understand the compensation you may be entitled to. The heads of damage may include:
Pain and Suffering
An injured party is entitled to be compensated for their pain and loss of enjoyment resulting from their injuries. Money is a poor substitute for good health, however, the award is intended to be used by the injured party to assist in making his or her life more bearable, and provide some solace for the injuries. The method for measuring damages for pain and suffering can be difficult, and there is no simple chart to which to refer. A fair award will take into account not only the severity of the injuries, but also the length of time it takes the injured party to recover and the extent to which their life is affected. There are a multitude of factors which can play a role in calculating damages. For example, a person may receive additional damages if the injuries impact upon planned holidays, special events, or the pursuit of important recreational activities. Most of us would appreciate that specific injuries will impact different individuals in different ways. The assessment of damages must not only include the severity and duration of the pain, but also how the injuries impair family, marital and social relationships, as well as the loss of lifestyle. An appropriate award is based on a careful review of court ordered awards in cases involving individuals with similar injuries and having similar circumstances.
Loss of Income
An injured party is entitled to recover not only their loss of income to the date the individual returns to work, but may also recover a reasonable award if there is a real or substantial possibility that the injured party may suffer a loss of income-earning capacity in the future. It may be that an injured party is able to return to work and carry on with their normal duties, but there may be a possibility or likelihood that the injuries will limit their ability to work until retirement, or it may impact on their ability to pursue other careers. In this case, the injured party may be entitled to an award for loss of future income-earning capacity.
Out of Pocket Expenses
An injured party is entitled to recover any reasonable medical or prescription expenses. In addition, the person is entitled to reimbursement for reasonable transportation expenses, and expenses incidental to the injuries. For example, if an injured party needs assistance with home or yard care, those expenses may be reimbursed.
Costs of Future Care
Particularly in cases of severe injury, there may be expenses involved in modifying the person’s accommodation, providing adaptive aids, as well as ongoing assistance for housekeepers, care aides, and the like. Where there is a permanent impairment, the award for cost of future care may be the most significant head of damage.
In-Trust Claims – An award may be granted to injured party’s family members, to provide some compensation for the housework, nursing and domestic assistance provided to an injured party.
In situations where the injured party fully recovers and there is little or no income loss, the calculation of damages may be relatively straight forward. However, it is important to seek legal advice to ensure that the injured party is fully and properly compensated. The assessment of an injured party’s claim can be fairly complex and frequently involves the use of outside experts including economists, occupational therapists, vocational experts, and medical specialists. Most lawyers will provide an initial consultation at no cost, and can provide some direction as to what services they can provide in a given situation. It is important to be aware that with any claim there are limitation periods that apply. As a general rule, it is best to seek legal advice early, to avoid problems down the road.