15 May Injured and Unable to Return to Work
In many personal injury cases, the largest award of damages is for a loss of future earning capacity. This is because the Court is attempting to compensate the Plaintiff for all of the lost wages they will forgo in the future due to their injuries. It attempts to compensate the Plaintiff for the fact that they will be:
- Less capable overall from earning income from all types of employment
- Less marketable or attractive to an employer
- Less able to take advantage of all job opportunities
- Less valuable as a person capable of earning income in a competitive labour market
When an injury happens to a Plaintiff early in their life, the level of compensation is often high as injuries can prevent a Plaintiff from going on to their dream job. They may be forced to settle for those jobs which will accommodate their physical and cognitive symptoms.
The case of Sundin v. Turnbull, 2017 BCSC 15, is an example of a situation where a young, athletic, university educated Plaintiff was severely injured in an accident and received significant compensation as a result.
The Plaintiff was riding his motorcycle when he was rear-ended by a truck. The collision caused him to be thrown from his motorcycle. As a result of the accident, the Plaintiff experienced ongoing problems with his neck, back, hips and knees, as well as chronic pain. He also sustained a traumatic brain injury which caused him headaches, sleep dysfunction, irritability, forgetfulness and mood problems.
At the time of the accident, the Plaintiff was 28 years old and had completed an undergraduate degree in kinesiology. He had obtained seasonal employment as a forest firefighter, a physically and mentally challenging job which he performed well. He had ambitions to be a police officer or a high level athletic coach. As a result of his injuries, the Plaintiff was unable to pursue a career as a police officer, coach or forest firefighter.
The Defendant argued that the Plaintiff’s past employment was sporadic and seasonal, a pattern that would have continued for the rest of his life. The Defendant suggested that $100,000 would be enough to compensate the Plaintiff for his loss.
The Plaintiff argued that prior to the accident he had a good job as a forest firefighter. Now he was permanently and severely limited in the type of work he could do because of his physical and cognitive limitations.
The Court agreed with the Plaintiff and awarded him $850,000 for his lost earning capacity. The Court noted that in the four years between the accident and the trial, the Plaintiff had tried to work at a number of different jobs without success. The Court stated that the Plaintiff’s failure in both physical and sedentary jobs was the “best available evidence of Mr. Sundin’s limitations”.
Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota has the expertise to ensure you are compensated fairly for your loss of future earning capacity. Contact us if you are injured and unable to return to work. 1