Understanding how to put a proper value on a personal injury case requires understanding the essential basics of estimating and assessing in personal injury law. Accidents after April 1, 2019 are subject the the ICBC Minor Injury Caps.
First, the purpose for civil damages is to put a victim back in the position they were before an injury. And second, it is not always possible as a financial loss may not be recoverable or the human body may never heal properly. So in a claim in which full injury resolution is not possible, compensation is assessed and provided to make up for the loss.
Here are five of the most important factors to consider when valuing an injury case and deciding how much a personal case is really worth:
1. Fault for the Injury and Loss
Basic beginning of a personal injury case is to establish that another person is legally responsible for the personal injury. In car accident cases lawyers look at the rules of the road and the common law. For slip and fall injuries lawyers must exam the Occupiers Liability legislation. For medical malpractice cases lawyers often have to rely of the standard’s set by doctors for their own profession.
The point being, there must be an operation of law that provided for a claim to be made. Whether the injury claim has to be filed with the Provincial Court, Supreme Court or government created board will depend on where, how and the severity of the injury.
2. Proof of Negligence
Civil cases must be established on a balance of probabilities. The documents, witnesses and information present in a personal injury case must meet the standards of evidence to be considered by any court or government board. In British Columbia the Evidence Act, the various rules of court and the judge made law determine what will be admissible. No value will be put to any document or opinion that is not in evidence.
3. Proof of Personal Injury
The actual injury itself may be obvious but must still be proved to the satisfaction of the court or government board before valuation can begin. Proof of injury usual comes from experts such as family doctors, medical specialists, therapists, occupational consultants, economist and vocational professionals. Written reports containing supporting opinions must be served on the other side of a personal injury case within the timeline set out in the applicable rules.
4. Calculable Damages
There are several acceptable claims that should be made in a personal injury case and in British Columbia there is no exhaustive list. Here are some of the more common personal injury claim damages:
- Non-pecuniary damages for pain and suffering;
- Loss of Past Income and Earnings;
- Loss of Pension, past and future;
- Loss of Future Earning Capacity;
- Loss of Opportunity to Earn;
- Loss of Business;
- Cost of Future Care;
- Loss of Homemaking Capacity;
- Property damage;
- Treatment and transportation expenses; and
- In-trust claim for family members.
The value of these claims are highly case specific and dependent on the facts, evidence and opinion. How much money to claim under each heading should be calculated, if a pecuniary loss, or assessed , if a non- pecuniary loss, according to legal principles .
5. Pain, Suffering and Loss of Enjoyment of Life
The maximum cap in Canada for pain and suffering set by the Supreme Court of Canada is under $400,000 dollars, which varies with the consumer price index. If a personal injury does not produce pain or suffering the court will award nothing for the injury. Here are the main factors BC judges consider before making a money award for pain and suffering:
- Age of the injury claimant;
- Type of the injury;
- Severity and duration of pain;
- Emotional suffering;
- Loss or impairment of life;
- Impairment of family, marital and social relationships;
- Impairment of physical and mental abilities;
- Loss of lifestyle; and
- The claimant’s stoicism.
Learn more and watch our short video about how judges value personal injury cases:
You can also get more information about how much a personal case is worth in our numerous well researched articles under How Much Money Will I get?