accident injury

Can I Claim for Lost Income if My Accident Injuries Prevent Me from Working?

It takes time for an accident victim who sustains personal injuries as a result of a BC motor vehicle collision to recover.

In addition to time and rest, recovery from physical injuries may require medical treatments (such as physiotherapy or massage therapy), medication to manage pain and symptoms, and in some cases, surgery to repair damage caused by the accident. Another aspect of accident recovery – one that is at times overlooked – relates to the injured person’s finances. Income can be seriously impacted by a motor vehicle accident. Income loss can occur in the immediate aftermath of the accident if the injured person misses work due to hospitalization, being stuck at home in bed, or because he or she is required to attend numerous medical treatments and doctors’ appointments. Income loss can also continue beyond those first days and weeks – and may be permanent – if the accident victim’s normal ability to work remains impaired.


Help! I can’t work due to accident injuries
The pain and suffering caused by physical injuries and stress of being in a BC motor vehicle accident are enough on their own. Unfortunately, many BC accident victims must also deal with time off work, which results in a reduced paycheck – or worse, no paycheck. If you are unable to work or have to work less due to injuries caused by another driver, you are entitled to wage loss compensation in BC. Let’s have a look at the types of wage loss compensation you may be entitled to if you have lost income due to your accident injuries, and what is required to prove your claims for past and future income loss in BC.


Your claim for past wage loss
Past wage loss covers all loss of income from the date of the motor vehicle accident to the date of settlement of your claim or the date of trial, if settlement of your personal injury claim is not possible. If you lost wages in that time period due to injuries caused by a negligent driver, you are entitled to recover your total net wage loss. Net wage loss means that the compensation you receive will be net of income tax. In other words, ICBC must pay for your lost income less income tax you would have paid on that income. This is to account for the fact that you do not need to pay income tax on amounts you receive from ICBC for your past wage loss claim. Note that if you receive Part 7 wage loss benefits under ICBC’s Autoplan insurance, ICBC will deduct those from the past wage loss portion of your tort claim. BC law also contains rules about whether ICBC can deduct EI sickness benefits or private insurance plan benefits from your past wage loss claim – the law in this area is more complex and depends on a number of factors. Contact our personal injury lawyers at 1-855-852-5100 for advice if this is an aspect of your wage loss claim. 


Calculating and proving your past wage loss claim

The calculation of a past wage loss claim can be straightforward. For example, if you missed six weeks of work and you normally earn $2,000 per week, the math is simple (6 weeks x $2,000, less income tax you would have paid) and the claim can typically be proven by providing paystubs, timesheets, and/or income tax returns. For accident victims who are self-employed, earn commission, receive performance bonuses, or have income that fluctuates from month-to-month or year-to-year, the calculation of past wage loss can be much more complex. It can be a challenge to prove that you missed out on the opportunity to get a bonus or commission or that you lost clients or contracts due to your injuries. The experienced BC personal injury lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP are skilled at building past wage loss claims and know the types of evidence you will need to prove your entitlement to full compensation.


Your claim for loss of prospective (future) earnings
Your claim for loss of future earning capacity and your past wage loss claim will be dealt with separately. This is because an award for loss of future earning capacity deals with a different time period than your past wage loss claim, and as such, requires different types of evidence. Past wage loss is known at the time of settlement or trial, whereas a future income loss claim is an attempt to calculate the value of loss of income from the date of the accident to your projected date of return to work or your retirement. Your earning capacity over your working life prior to the accident will be evaluated along with any future contingencies that ICBC may argue should reduce your compensation. This calculation is usually carried out with the help of actuaries and economists because it requires projections about your likely earnings and a comparison of what you would have earned had the accident not occurred against what you will likely earn given then impact of the accident injuries. If you would like more information, see here for our BC accident lawyers’ more detailed discussion of loss of future earnings. 


Your claim for loss of future earning capacity
If the motor vehicle accident caused a serious injury that has permanently impaired your ability to earn income, you will want to bring a tort claim for compensation under a head of damage known as “loss of future earning capacity.” To establish a claim for this type of compensation, you must prove a “real and substantial” possibility of loss of income in the future as a result of your motor vehicle accident injuries. Once that has been established, there are two approaches that can then be applied to measure the value of your claim for loss of future earning capacity; depending on the facts of the case, the loss may be quantified either on an earnings approach or on a capital asset approach. This area of law is complex. If you have been seriously and permanently injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, the best course of action is to speak to a skilled BC personal injury lawyer about how to substantiate your claim for loss of future earning capacity. To schedule your free initial consultation with one of Bronson Jones & Company LLP’s BC personal injury lawyers, call us today at 1-855-852-5100. We have 13 convenient office locations in the Lower Mainland. If you are too injured to come to one of our offices, one of our lawyers will come to you.

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