By Patrick McMurchy
A tort claim is a claim against the person or persons who caused the accident, but in practice, person’s insurer will defend the claim. In B.C. the insurer is almost always ICBC.
Potential damages for tort claims included the cost of treatment both past and future, income loss both past and future and loss of enjoyment of life, often called “pain and suffering”.
For accident injury settlements, some people feel they should wait and see if they agree with ICBC’s offer before they seek a lawyer’s opinion. There are problems with this approach in principle and in practice.
In principle, the claimant and the insurer are in a conflict of interest. One wants to get paid and the other is doing the paying.
In practice, most unrepresented people have little or no idea what their claim may be worth. No one should sell something of value not knowing what its’ worth, or accept the buyer’s offer as a fair price. To ensure fairness, both parties should be fully informed.
Assessing damages for loss of enjoyment of life is complex. Unlike worker’s compensation claims, there is no “meat chart” to determine what injuries are worth. Each claim needs to be individually assessed. What’s being looked at are the effects of the injuries on the individual.
“Injuries” include physical and psychological injuries, and may include the aggravation of pre-existing conditions. Individual factors need to be looked at: for example, the person injured may have been susceptible to an injury suffered, or they may be stoic in their response to the injury and effects.
Past wage loss is usually relatively simple to calculate, although there are exceptions. Future loss of income is more complicated. There can be a future loss of income or earning capacity, even where the injured person is promoted following the injuries.
Like past wage loss, damages for the cost of past care is usually a fair straightforward assessment, while the costs of future treatment can be complicated.
This article is for general information only, and should not be relied on as legal advice in any particular case. Consult a lawyer for advice on your case.