What’s My Claim Worth? Calculating Compensation in Personal Injury
The goal in any personal injury claim is to put the injured person (or their surviving family members) in the same position that they would have been in if the injury or fatality had not happened.
Money can’t replace the loss of a loved one or really compensate for the loss of a limb, permanent pain or a catastrophic injury. But the courts do try to provide a fair and reasonable measure of financial compensation to innocent victims.
What Can I be Compensated For?
A “non-pecuniary” claim is one that does not result in a direct out of pocket financial loss, but is still considered to be of value. Non pecuniary losses are sometimes referred to as compensation for “pain and suffering” but they cover any type of non-financial loss.
A pecuniary claim is one that has (or will) result in a direct out of pocket financial loss. For example, the cost paying for medical treatment is a pecuniary loss. Past and future income loss is also a pecuniary loss.
Your injuries may cause you to miss time from work. In the case of serious injuries, you may never be able to work again.
The Courts consider claims for loss of income two ways. They will consider whether you have suffered an “actual income loss” or a “diminished earning capacity”.
Actual Income Loss
There are two components to an “actual income loss” claim; the losses up to the date of trial or settlement and the losses you may suffer in the future.
- Past loss of income: You are entitled to be compensated for your actual income loss up to the date of settlement or trial. Usually this loss is one that is capable of being calculated fairly precisely with the help of experts like actuaries or economists.
- Future loss of income: If your injuries prevent you from being able to work in the future you may also entitled to receive compensation for that loss. Since no one has a crystal ball to look into the future, claims for future income loss can be difficult to calculate with precision.Calculating claims for future income loss usually requires us to retain the services of an actuary or an economist who are experts in calculating past and future income loss claims.
Diminished Earning Capacity
In some cases, the evidence may prove that your injuries has (or will) effect your ability to earn an income. But it may not be possible to calculate exactly the value of the economic loss. In those cases the courts may consider awarding you compensation for what is called “diminished earning capacity”.
Your ability to work is an asset. That asset is made up of a variety of factors including your physical abilities, your education, and training or experience. If some of your abilities have been limited or reduced by your injuries, you may be entitled to an award for diminished earning capacity.
Diminished Capacity claims usually require expert evidence to prove what the nature and extent of your diminished capacity is and the economic effects of your diminished capacity.
Loss of Valuable Services
Sometimes your injuries may prevent you from being able to perform certain duties, chores or jobs around the house that you routinely performed before the accident.
For example, I have had clients whose injuries prevented them from being able to clean their house, make their beds, do the laundry and all the other duties that are involved in running a household that we normally take for granted (until we are unable to do them).
We have made claims to compensate my clients for the costs of hiring housekeepers to come into their home to do laundry, wash their dishes, make their beds and do all the other valuable services my clients normally performed before they were injured.
We have had clients who couldn’t take care of their household maintenance chores. We have submitted claims to cover the cost of mowing their lawn, shoveling their side walk, and generally maintaining their home.
Simply put, loss of valuable services covers the normal day to day activities that a home owner has to engage in to maintain their home and their property or take care of their family.
For example, we represented a single Mom who suffered a spinal cord injury and was confined to a wheelchair. We were able to recover compensation for her for the cost of hiring a child care worker to come into her home to help care for her two young children until she was able to care for her children on her own.
If your injuries prevent you from being able to perform a physical duty, chore or activity that you normally were able to do before you were injured, the court may compensate you for the actual financial costs of hiring someone to perform those duties.
Medical Care and Rehabilitation Expenses
People who have been seriously injured often have significant on going costs for things like physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, medication, in home nursing care and so on.
In the case of catastrophic injuries, the lifetime cost of ongoing medical care can be enormous. For example, in a recent medical malpractice case we represented the family of a child who had been severally brain injured. The lifetime cost of providing ongoing medical care to the child was calculated by our experts to be $2,113,373.00.
This list isn’t exclusive. It is just a summary of some of the areas that the court will consider when calculating how much compensation you may be entitled to receive if you have been injured.
There are other areas that the courts will consider when calculating compensation to injured victims. It is important that you have the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer to ensure that you have identified and provided sufficient evidence to properly calculate all of the losses that you, or your family, will experience as a result of your injury or the death of your loved one.
Think We Can Help You?
You can contact us online. You can call Nova Scotia personal injury lawyer John McKiggan Q.C . at (902) 423-2050 or toll free at (902) 423-2050 or you can get lots of free information on John’s Halifax Personal Injury Lawyer Blog .
Here is some helpful information about How to Find the Best Trial Lawyer for Your Case.