By Matt Lalande in Personal Injury on January 01, 2021
Our answer depends on how long your case has been ongoing. It you have recently been injured, it’s just too soon to tell. The answer would be that we do not know.
What we can say, confidently, is that if any law firm tells you what they think your case is worth, they simply incorrect. Putting a dollar amount on a case is more art than science. There’s no worksheet or sliding scale to reference to. All we have to refer to is our experience, the upper limit set out by Supreme Court of Canada and ranges previously decided by our Courts. The valuation of damages, litigation risk, liability risk and collateral benefits (what your case numbers are offset by – ex: your wages are offset by your long-term disability) are all factors that need to be considered as your case progresses forward. we need to calculate present values of dollars and contingencies. Some cases have liability issues. While we can estimate that your case may be worth a certain amount of money, that money could be cut short because it is discovered that the accident you are involved in might’ve been partially your fault or, you might not have been wearing a seatbelt. In that case any estimation is simply not predictable.
Your recovery and overall medical and clinical evidence may change week to week. You may get better or you may get worse. The extent of injuries is always subject to change. Some people do heal in a short amount of time, while others are not so fortunate, and go on to develop permanent and chronic issues.
Valuation of serious injury cases is not possible early on, but is possible as the case reaches an end point – but even at that – there is a valuation of your demands, and then a valuation of settlement.
Again, there are many factors that go into determining what the value of your car accident case may be worth, but these values cannot be predicted until we reach the near end of your case. We can valuate our demands – i.e. how much we ask for, but this is never the same as what a case settles for or is provided by verdict.
Our firm will never settle or resolve a complicated injury case before you reach a maximum medical recovery. With exception to catastrophically injured victims such as paraplegia, quadriplegia, amputation, blindness etc. – it is never any client’s best interest to resolve their case prior to knowing what the future will hold and obtaining a proper prognosis.
Car accident cases, for example, are divided into separate heads of damages. Damages is another word for compensation. Typically with critically injured victims, our Hamilton car accident lawyers will sue the at fault driver’s insurance company for pain and suffering, past loss of wages, your future loss of wages, the loss of housekeeping capacity, any medical expenses not covered by OHIP, medical expenses not covered by a private benefit plan, any medical expenses not covered by your accident benefits, as well as compensation for your close family members for the loss of care, guidance and companionship or any out of pocket money that needs to be reimbursed.
Your recovery and overall medical and clinical evidence may change week to week. You may get better or you may get worse. The extent of injuries is always subject to change. Some people do heal in a short amount of time, while others are not so fortunate, and go on to develop permanent and chronic issues. There is no simple way to put a dollar amount on the consequence of negligence. Determining how much should be awarded to a particular victim is not easy and should never be estimated with potential accuracy.
We would try and estimate a range of damages as we approach the end of a person’s car accident case and after a person’s maximum medical recovery is clinically predictable. Imagine that a young 30 year old man gentleman, let’s name him Ray Romano, suffers a partial spinal cord injury in an auto accident that rendered him paraplegic. Here is a rough estimation on how we would predict a range of damages for Mr. Romano:
Pain and Suffering
The Supreme Court of Canada has established an upper limit for pain and suffering damages in Canada. As of 2019, the upper limit is $383,191. We would demand limits.
Loss of Wages
Imagine Ray as currently 30 years old. Ray would be claiming loss of wages from the date of his accident, to the date of settlement or trial, less anything he has been paid by CPP, Long Term Disability or any other income continuation plan. We would demand this.
Ray, a software developer, more likely than not would have another 40 years of working life left. Imagine Ray made $65,000 a year. The present value, paid monthly, for 40 years using the Ontario discount rate for 2019 would total $2,160,908.70. There is likely a contingency for unemployment and the chance to Ray will die early. It would form part of our demands.
Loss of Housekeeping
Given the Ray would be deemed catastrophically impaired, he would be entitled, through his own insurance company, to $100.00 per week for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred as a result of the accident for housekeeping and home maintenance services.
Further, if Ray owned a home, we would obtain the help of qualified Occupational Therapists to determine the chores that Ray can no longer do around his house or that he must hire people to do, such as shoveling snow, clearing the gutters, putting up Christmas lights, trimming hedges, making dinners, cleaning the bathtub etc. Courts of been clear for years that all of this work cannot be put onto an opposite spouse. We have seen housekeeping expenses range from $5,000.00 – $25,000 per year, depending on the severity of the injury and the housekeeping losses claimed. We would seek damages until Ray turned 70.
Future Health Care Expenses
Ray, as an accident victim is entitled to claim future health care expenses that are not covered by OHIP, group benefit plan or his accident benefits. Typically, in a catastrophic case, a claimant is entitled to $1 million over their lifetime for medical benefits, rehabilitation benefits and attendant care benefits. If the calculation of a car accident victim’s health care expenses exceeds the amount of available coverage noted above, then a claim can be made against the at fault driver for future health care cost compensation.
How are Future Health Care Cost Determined?
If we are using the example of a spinal cord injury, a life care specialist would be hired to develop a comprehensive plan, based upon published standards of practice, to provide an organized concise plan for the current future needs and associated costs of the car accident victim’s catastrophic injury and/or chronic health care needs.
For example, we would need to quantify the cost things such as:
These recommendations are just a fraction of what would be required during the lifetime of the spinal cord injury victim. These examples must be properly quantified in order to determine where Ray’s range of damages could be evaluated. In the end, a properly evaluated paraplegic’s spinal cord injury case can be estimated between $7,000,000.00 and $15,000,000.00, when all of his or her losses are taken into consideration.
The sole purpose of compensation in a personal injury case is to put you in the place that you were in the day before your accident. From a pain and suffering perspective, non-economic damages are to compensate a victim for the physical, emotional and mental distress that they have suffered as a result of an accident. Losses that flow from a victim’s injuries that are not quantifiable in monetary terms.
Technically, it’s impossible to assign an actual monetary value for personal injury pain, however our Courts have been clear that we should consider a victim’s subjective pain and suffering, loss of amenities, loss of expectation of life and other factors relevant to the victims subjective experience of the functional loss.
Economic damages or losses that can be quantified and compensated in the form of money, such as your past and future loss of income, past and future loss of competitive advantage in career opportunity, past and future cost of personal care, the loss of home maintenance capacity, the past and future cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation and diagnosis and any other financial losses which flow from the negligence of the driver that hurt you and that can be calculated monetary terms.
As we get closer to settlement or verdict, assessing your economic and non-economic damages becomes more of a reality. Your medical condition has more likely than not plateaued. An opinion on your long-term has been provided, we know how much money you will lose and have lost at work, we will know whether or not you could care for your home, we will know how much your family members have lost financially helping you, we will know if you if you are returning to work or not, we will know if you will remain on long-term disability or not, we know whether or not you require attendant care either part-time or full-time, we will know overall, how you have recovered and what life holds for you in the future.
If you or your loved one has been hurt in a serious car accident and you have questions about what you are entitled to recover by law, please call us at 905-333-8888, chat with our live chat operator or fill in a contact form today. We would love to hear from you, we will help answer your questions, inform you of your legal rights and there is no obligation to retain our Hamilton car accident lawyers.Remember, our consultations are always free, and if we decide to work together, we will never ask you for money upfront.
*The above information was approved by Matt Lalande or another lawyer at Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers. The information comes from legal experience, trial experience, extensive medical research and discussion with medical professionals, medical journal review and updates and/or consultations with fellow friends and colleagues in the legal and medical field.