In a personal injury action, the injured party can claim against the defendant for both past income loss (being their actual lost income up to the date of the trial), as well as for potential future lost income earning ability (called a “loss of capacity” claim). In both cases, the plaintiff must satisfy the court on a balance of probabilities that they have suffered these losses, as well as the amount of the loss. In many cases, past wage loss can be a simple calculation – for example, a plaintiff can use pay stubs, or income tax returns to show how what their earnings were up to the accident, and can readily calculate how much income was lost – for example, if the plaintiff earned $600 a week, and was off for two weeks, their lost income is easily calculated to be $1,200. Bringing a claim for lost income can be tricky if your income comes from more unorthodox sources.
Most British Columbians who pursue their personal injury claims through a lawsuit will do so with the assistance of legal counsel. Legal fees are typically very expensive. The vast majority of injured plaintiffs will hire a lawyer on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they will be paid a percentage of the total settlement or judgment, and usually the lawyer doesn’t get paid until the case is over. As a personal injury lawyer, clients will often ask me, “Can I sue ICBC or the other party for all of my legal costs?” My answer to this question is as follows: not really.