If you are injured because of the actions or fault of another person, you could be entitled to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation. In British Columbia, personal injury compensation is made up of two elements – your pecuniary damages and your non-pecuniary damages. ‘Pecuniary’ means ‘relating to money’.
Also known as general damages, non-pecuniary damages are awarded for your pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. The amount you are awarded cannot be specifically calculated, as it can be with pecuniary damages. Rather, it is a reflection of the injuries you have experienced and will be determined by the extent of the pain and suffering you have endured.
When working out a suitable sum for your non-pecuniary damages, your personal injury lawyer will assess the injuries you have sustained and will look at the compensation awarded in similar cases. That is why a personal injury claim should not be settled until your injuries have either resolved or a prognosis is known, as your injuries could be worse than initially thought.
The law in British Columbia sets out guidelines for certain types of injuries. For example, for short lived tissue injuries, such as whiplash that is resolved within several months, the courts often award somewhere between $2,500 and $20,000 depending on the length of recovery and residual pain.
These are only guidelines and each claim will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Your claim could certainly be worth more. However, for significant injuries there is an upper limit cap for non-pecuniary damages, which is currently $367,000. This figure does increase regularly to take inflation into account, but whatever the cap may be, it means that you can never be awarded more than this for your pain and suffering.
Pecuniary damages are so-called because they can be quantified in monetary terms. They are there to put you back in the financial position you would have been in, had it not been for the accident.
There are actually lots of different types of pecuniary damages, and each will need to be calculated during the course of your claim. These include –
- Loss of past income/earning capacity if you have been unable to work because of your injuries, or if you have lost income because of some limitation at work
- Loss of future income/earning capacity if you will be unable to return to work in the future because of your injuries, or if your capacity to work has been diminished in some way, such as if you will be unable to resume the same number of hours/position, or you are less likely to be employed because of what has happened
- Cost of future care that you might need, such as home care or medical equipment
- Loss of housekeeping capacity, meaning you can no longer perform the same tasks around the house and have to rely on others
- Other out of pocket expenses, which can include medical care costs, the cost of replacing/repairing damaged items, the cost of home adaptations now required, and income loved ones have lost because of the time they spent caring for you
Start your compensation claim today
As you can see, a compensation claim is made up of a number of different elements. A personal injury lawyer will consider each and every one in light of your injuries and your financial losses, ensuring that you receive all the damages you are rightfully entitled to. It is important to get this right, as you will only have once chance to claim.
If you would like to speak to one of our personal injury lawyers about starting a claim for compensation, please do not hesitate to contact us at North Shore Law LLP.