What is the value of your claim?
It’s not a simple question to answer because there are so many moving parts involved in determining this. To truly understand the value of your claim, here’s what we need to know:
- What is your diagnosis? Do you have a soft-tissue injury? Do you have a herniated disc resulting in nerve impingement? Do you have a psychological injury in addition to your physical injuries?
- Are your injuries permanent or likely to improve with time? Have you suffered with your injury two months or 3 years? Is surgery required? Will your injuries resolve fully with surgery?
- How do your injuries impact your ability to function? Do your injuries affect regular daily living? Can you brush your hair and teeth? Can you put your socks on? Can you clean a bathtub, vacuum, drive a car? If you can do these activities, can you perform them pain free?
- What were you like before the injury? Were you physically active before the injury? Did you hike every other weekend or go to the gym 4 times per week, but now you’re struggling with long walks? Perhaps you are retired, and love to sew, are you no longer able to enjoy your hobby?
Understand loss of earning capacity
If you’re off work for days weeks, months, years, that value is often easy to calculate, but there are also more nuanced ways to value your loss of earning capacity after an injury. The following fact patterns illustrate how each person must be evaluated differently and compensation for future loss of earnings will be assessed differently.
- A 45 year old that has been at their job for 10-15 years and plans on retiring there. They return on a graduated return 1-2 months post accident and have no problems once they successfully complete their return to work.
- A 45 year old that has been at their job for 10-15 years and plans on retiring there. They return on a graduated return 1-2 months post accident, but they can only work 4 days per week because of headaches related to the accident.
- A 22 year old that is taking 5 courses at the time of the accident, but has to drop courses as a result of their injuries and graduates 2-3 years later than planned. Perhaps the injuries are such that he/she contemplated grad school, but could not do so because of the injuries? Perhaps they will be able to work full-time in their chosen profession, but management is unlikely due to the nature of their injuries (e.g. Bill can still become a teacher, but it is unlikely he will have the stamina to put in what is required to be a principal.)
- A 30 year old labourer that has to change occupations as a result of injuries. He/ she has a high IQ and did well in high school. He/She may obtain a job with better pay or less pay. Perhaps they do obtain a more sedentary job where the pay is better, but what if the job is less stable than their former job? They now no longer have the capacity to fall back on their labouring experience as they have a rotator cuff tear or a herniated disc in their back.
- A 50-55 year old labourer that has to change occupations as a result of injuries. He/ she has learning disabilities and has a grade 8 level of education. He/she has only ever worked in labouring jobs.
- A nurse/ teacher that has soft tissue injuries that result in him/her working 3-4 days per week rather than 5 days
- A nurse/ teacher that has soft tissue injuries, but she is able to return to work
- A 50 year old nurse/ teacher that returns to work full-time following an Accident, but his/ her back/ neck injury will eventually require surgery.
- A 30 year old nurse/ teacher that returns to work part-time following an Accident and his/ her back/ neck injury will eventually require surgery.
These examples illustrate why a lawyer is helping when valuing your claim. It just isn’t straight forward. Depending on the nature of the claim, experts may also assist us. A doctor will tell us if injuries are permanent. An economist will assist with valuing the loss of earnings or capacity.
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