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Loss of future earning capacity.
- I have to retrain for a less physically demanding job than the one I did before the collision. It also pays less. How do I prove the value of my lost future income?
- While physical impairments generally have a greater financial impact on people who use their bodies for their work, limitations in the ability to sit and work at a computer much of the work day can also impair a person's earning capacity.
First, you have to prove that you cannot handle your job and what jobs you are now able to handle. Family physicians have few tools at their disposal that allow them to give a strong opinion on your physical limitations unless they are very obvious. General practitioners will often rely heavily on what their patients tell them, which rarely holds water in a legal case.
Occupational therapists with special training may evaluate your present ability to function at work by doing an assessment that takes between four hours and two days; however, they are not qualified to predict your future. (For more information on this, see the answer to next question. )
You will need a top medical specialist to predict whether your present work limitations will improve, remain about the same or deteriorate in the future in the short, medium and long term, and to what degree. This is generally a very difficult task.
ICBC will no doubt hire one of its frequently used medical specialists to do an assessment. These specialists tend to minimize the effect of your injuries on your life and to be optimistic about your future, so it is imperative that you obtain the opinion of a medical specialist who has plenty of legal experience and who has proven that he or she will hold up well in court in the event that your case proceeds to trial. When ICBC negotiates settlements, it considers which expert's opinion is most likely to be accepted by the court.
Your former supervisors, employers and even teachers can provide very powerful evidence as to your potential for advancement in your occupation as of the day before you were injured.
You may also need a vocational rehabilitation consultant to consider the medical opinions on your physical or mental limitations and to explain how your limitations will impact your ability to earn a living. Which occupations that were formerly open to you are now closed to you? How difficult will it be for you to obtain and retain work now? ICBC may hire a vocational consultant who tends to be very optimistic about the vocational future of injured people, so you will need a top-notch consultant.
You may also need a labour market economist to place a monetary value on the difference between your possible and probable future income flows:
- had you not been injured, and
- as a result of your injuries.
The combination of the opinions of your work capacity evaluator, medical specialist, vocational consultant and economist will enable your lawyer to place a value on your loss of earning capacity for the purposes of settlement negotiations and, if necessary, for court.