How Are Damages Assessed In A Car Accident?

Simply put, in a personal injury case, damages are the monetary compensation paid to the injured party by a defendant. In the majority of cases, the insurance company will be responsible for the payment of damages in car accidents.

The purpose of damages is to restore the injured party to the pre-injury position that he or she was in prior to being hurt. There are numerous considerations when determining the value of a car accident claim. Taken into consideration is the cause and nature of injuries and the effect that the injuries have on the quality of life, ability to work and expenses incurred while injured. Most personal injury damages are considered compensatory. This means that they are intended to recompense the injured party for those things that were lost due to the accident. This requires putting a dollar value on the loss and the effect it has had on the plaintiff’s life.

The Supreme Court of Canada has declared

“The general principles underlying our system of damages suggest that a plaintiff should receive full and fair compensation, calculated to place him or her in the same position as he or she would have been had the tort not been committed, insofar as this can be achieved by monetary amount. This principle suggests that in calculating damages under the pecuniary heads, the measure of the damages should be the plaintiff’s actual loss.”

Pecuniary damages are quantifiable, such as medical costs and property damage. Personal injury damage awards will nearly always include these costs both for out of pocket medical care already received as well as those which may be required in the future. The plaintiff  may also be entitled compensation for income and loss of earning capacity, housekeeping and home maintenance, property loss and FLA (Family Law Act) claims.

Other daamges, considered non-pecuniary damages are harder to quantify, such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment. In 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada capped the amount that can be awarded for non-pecuniary damages. This figure changes on a yearly basis based on cost of living and inflation. In addition, other requirements must be met in accordance to a “threshold”. Under these rules, the injuries sustained must have resulted in death, permanent serious disfigurement or permanent serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function. They must also satisfy a $30,000 deductible. This deductible will not be applied where the claim exceeds $100,000.

In some cases, an injured party’s role in causing the accident may decrease the amount of damages awarded. Called contributory negligence, the plaintiff’s claim to damages may be reduced if he or she did not take reasonable care toward safety and that lack of care contributed to the loss. This can be seen in plaintiffs who don’t wear seat belts, fail to wear helmets on bikes or motorcycles or plaintiffs who are impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.

Many factors enter into the determination of assessing damages after injury in a car accident. It is imperative to seek qualified legal advice to know your rights. Call AB Personal Injury Lawyer for a free consultation about your accident and what compensation you may be entitled. We represent victim’s rights in Sault Ste. Marie, Trenton, Chatham and surrounding areas and look forward to serving you.