Some economic losses are not recoverable at all unless the person has suffered a “catastrophic injury”. Others may be severely limited. A claimant may be entitled to future losses apart from loss of income, where there is a loss of or diminished earning capacity, or a loss of or diminished housekeeping, caregiving or “handyman” capacity. Once again, where there is a corresponding statutory accident benefit available, it must be claimed from the claimant’s own insurer and must be deducted from any claim against the tortfeasor.
A loss of or diminished earning capacity may be payable if the claimant suffers from a reduction in his/her capacity to earn an income from all types of employment. This may be shown either by an actual loss after a return to work (additional sick days due to flare ups of pain), or other evidence, such as reduced ability to work overtime, loss of promotional or job change opportunities. This may be very difficult to prove, and upon a return to work, the injured, but working, claimant would be well advised to keep careful track of all such missed opportunities. The fact that the claimant’s income actually increases after a return to work does not eliminate this type of claim. The question is not a loss of income that must be proved, but a diminished earning capacity (can't work as hard, can't work as long, can no longer do types of work that could be done prior to the accident (even if not being actively pursued at the time), and the attendant innate prejudice that will ensue.
Other types of economic loss may be due to a reduced ability to do housekeeping, caregiving and handyman activities. This is relatively easy to quantify if there has been a replacement of services, however often these types of activities are undertaken after an accident by other family members. This can make it very difficult to quantify. Again, careful record keeping is important. Record how much is paid to the kid down the street to cut the grass or shovel the snow.
In some cases, the accident causes a loss of or disturbed income stream that creates consequential losses. This can be very difficult to establish, but should be pursued where the consequential loss (for example, loss of a house due to inability to keep up with the mortgage payments) appears to be directly related to the interruption of the income stream. Be sure that all collateral benefits have been properly claimed and that the problem with the income interruption has been made known to the tortfeasor’s insurer at an early opportunity.
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