Future Bleak After Accident? You Could Get Big Compensation

If you’re badly hurt in a car crash and your future income earning ability is a lot less afterwards, you may be entitled to substantial compensation.

Mike (names changed), a 16-year old teenager, was walking around a curve on a roadside shoulder at night, facing oncoming traffic. He was struck from behind by Brenda, who didn’t turn her car at the curve in the road but kept driving straight, crossing the oncoming traffic lane and ramming into Mike at about 60 km/hour.

The court decided Brenda was fully responsible for the car accident – there was no suggestion Mike could have done anything to avoid it. The case was mostly about whether Mike’s future earning potential had been reduced

The defence argued that despite his brain injuries from the car accident, Mike’s future ability to earn income was no less after the accident. They pointed out that Mike’s high school grades afterwards were higher than before, and that he did well academically at university, even though he had to work a lot harder and get special accommodations to get good grades post-accident.

But during the trial, it became clear that there was a real and substantial possibility Mike would never be able to have the engineering career he had planned on before he was injured and still hoped for.

Mike was a very energetic, athletic and achievement-oriented young man before the accident, always striving to excel and “be the best” at whatever he set his mind on. He was an accomplished mountain bike rider, well liked by all, and a quick learner who did very well at school with little effort.

But the car crash changed everything for him. He was still extraordinarily driven to succeed. But the accident had inflicted a moderate to borderline severe brain injury with far reaching consequences.

Mike himself, his family and friends noticed his physical and mental abilities and his personality had changed. Though still highly motivated to succeed, his ability to focus and remember, to organize and carry out tasks was impaired. Studying became hard and took everything out of him, to the exclusion of everything else in his life.

In a real life working environment, Mike had difficulties at his university co-op placement and floundered even when given relatively simple tasks. He had difficulty organizing tasks and made mistakes carrying them out. He became anxious when under stress, which further impaired his ability to function well at work.

Medically, the bulk of his recovery was expected to happen within the first couple of years after the accident. So by the time of the trial some six years later, Mike could expect little if any further progress.

The court decided Mike’s earning potential was reduced. Based on his diminished future earning ability and more limited employability, Mike was awarded $3 million compensation. He was also awarded $220,000 for non-money damages (things like loss of enjoyment of life), some $65,000 for future care costs and reimbursement for medical expenses.


Written by Janice and George Mucalov, LL.B.s with contribution by COBBETT & COTTON. This column provides information only and must not be relied on for legal advice. Please contact COBBETT & COTTON for legal advice concerning your particular case. Names of the parties in reported cases have been changed or removed to protect their identity. Lawyer Janice Mucalov is an award-winning legal writer. “You and the Law” is a registered trade-mark. ©Janice and George Mucalov.

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