26 Sep Compensation for Injuries – Part 1 of 4: General Damages
By: Darren Kautz
In a personal injury claim there are four ways that the aggrieved victim can be compensated. Referred to as “four heads of damages”, these forms of compensation are the following:
1. general damages;
2. past wage loss;
3. cost of future care; and
4. special damages.
Join us for the next four weeks as we discuss each head of damage in turn and provide insight as to what they entail.
What are “Damages”?
Well, “damages” does not espouse a conventional meaning of “damage”, but it is connected to it. “Damages” refer to monetary value that can be affixed to compensate for a loss or injury. In other words, it seeks to compensate an aggrieved party through a monetary sum and put that aggrieved party back to the position he or she would have been if the injury had not occurred.
With that out of the way, let’s dig in.
The most common form of compensation in personal injury and ICBC claims are general damages. These refer to compensation relating to physical and psychological pain and suffering that an injured party experiences as a result of a motor vehicle accident or any other injury. In other words, it’s money given to an injured party to make up for loss of intangibles. Put it this way, if you are involved in a motor vehicle collision (let’s say you were rear-ended), and you hit your head on your steering wheel upon impact, you may experience intermittent or persistent headaches thereafter. What this head of damage does is that it tries to quantify a monetary sum that corresponds to your headaches.
General damages are also referred to as “non-pecuniary damages”, or “non-pecs”. These refer to damages that are not readily quantifiable. While non-pecs can relate to other areas of law such as situations involving, for example, lack of enjoyment on a vacation, they form a substantial portion of a personal injury claims.
We know that general damages seek to compensate the Plaintiff for intangible losses such as physical and psychological pain and suffering. Do you see an inherent complication in this approach? There is a big one. Due to its subjective nature, there is no precise formula that would readily yield specific numbers for the type of injury. Therefore, past case law, combined with statutory limits allows personal injury practitioners’ to gain valuable experience in the area. This experience or “know how” provides the basic foundation of such claims as it enables them to advocate for your rights accordingly. Therefore, it is important to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as you are injured so that proper steps can be taken to ensure your maximum compensation for the injuries you have suffered.
Think you got a handle on what general damages are? Test your knowledge:
Which of the following are considered general damages:
(a) You missed a shift at work the day after your accident because of pain in your upper back.
(b) You had trouble sleeping the night of your accident due to pain in your neck.
(c) You received physio therapy treatments to alleviate some of the symptoms of your injury.
(d) You had difficulty driving your car due to post-MVA anxiety and were required to take a taxi to work for a week.
Join us at Kautz Injury law next week as I, Darren Kautz, will discuss employment and wage loss as a result of injuries sustained in an accident.