Future Care Costs In Injury Cases

Being involved in a car accident is traumatic at the best of times. But if you’re seriously hurt in a car crash, it can change your life in an instant.

One consequence? You may need ongoing professional care. If the crash is the other side’s fault, you’re probably entitled to get compensation for the costs of such care. That’s in addition to “pain and suffering” and other compensation. A recent case shows the approach our courts take to compensation for the costs of future care.

Here, Peter (all names changed), a vigorous 83-years old at the time, was struck by an out-of-control pick-up truck while standing at a bus shelter. The driver who caused the accident fled the scene, but was later arrested by police.

Unfortunately, the accident changed Peter’s life forever. Before, he had the energy, vitality and fitness of a much younger man in his 60s. He looked after the house and yard work, cooked and had dinner waiting for his wife after work, did the shopping and banking, was sociable and outgoing with family and friends, and kept up with the news. Afterwards, he couldn’t really do any of those things anymore.

His accident injuries were devastating – 85% of people with similar injuries wouldn’t have survived them. He had multiple surgeries, had his spleen (and part of his liver) removed, spent ten days in an induced coma to help healing, and underwent many months of treatment and rehabilitation. He also suffered a traumatic brain injury that left his cognitive function permanently impaired.

By the time of trial two years later, he had ongoing chronic pain and impaired physical function as well. He faced more surgeries, plus increased risks of infection, Alzheimer’s, and falling due to balance problems, all stemming from the accident. And he would need a great deal of ongoing treatment from a variety of professional care-givers going forward.

The goal of ongoing care compensation is to put the victim in the same position as if the accident had not happened, said the court. Where that’s not possible because, as here, the injuries have resulted in permanent impairment, the victim is entitled to full compensation. The compensation will take into account the recommendations of experts as to all appropriate future care and treatment which are supported by the medical evidence.

Peter would need (and benefit from) ongoing treatment from a speech pathologist and a number of other specialists. The compensation award also took into account that Peter could expect to live past age 92. Ultimately, Peter’s future care could cost well over $300,000. Peter was awarded an additional 25% of that amount to compensate for the real and substantial risk things could take a turn for the worse for him, which would require additional care measures if that happened.

Assessing costs of future care is complex. Your lawyer can help you get the compensation you’re entitled to if you’re hurt in a car accident.

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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