How Accident Damages are Assessed

When assessing damages, the court is trying to put you back to the position you were in immediately before the accident. To do this the court will identify all the ways in which you were harmed by the accident. However, not all harms are the same.

Sometimes it is straightforward: if the only damage was to your vehicle, then ICBC can repair or replace your vehicle. Sometimes the damage is purely financial, but it is difficult to calculate, for example if you missed a job interview and didn’t manage to find a job. The court would try to estimate the likelihood of you receiving a job if you had attended that interview, and then apply that to the amount of money you would have received. Finally, there are damages that cannot be compensated for with money, such as pain and suffering or in the most unfortunate cases, permanent disability. In those cases courts will look at awards that have been given for similar injuries.

The courts have developed categories of damages that cover all the consequences that can flow from an accident. Each of your damages is assigned to a category and then each category is assessed separately.

The courts also rely on certain principles when assessing damages. In addition to putting you in the position you were in before the accident, the court also seeks to avoid “double recovery”: if you have already been compensated for some of your damages, they are excluded from your ICBC claim.

Factors Not Taken into Account

There are also factors that the courts do not consider when assessing damages: they do not consider the resources of the defendant (or ICBC), and they are not trying to punish the defendant. The court is focused entirely on putting you back to position you were in before the accident.