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Compensation For Delayed University Graduation

Burnaby Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’re hurt in a car crash which delays your graduation from university because you can’t study full-time, you could be entitled to money compensation, i.e., damages. Take the recent case of Amy, a 17-year old Grade 12 student (name changed to protect her).

Amy was driving a van in Burnaby, waiting to turn left at an intersection. She was rear-ended by another van driven by Mr. P. He (and another defendant) admitted the accident was his fault. The B.C. Supreme Court had to determine what amounts of money would fairly compensate Amy for her physical and psychological injuries.

Amy suffered headaches and neck, right shoulder, mid- and lower-back pain, as well as pain in her wrists and right ankle. She also suffered some emotional difficulties, such as anxiety attacks. Some of her physical injuries got better over time, but she continued to have headaches and anxiety issues, for which she took medication.

Before the accident, Amy had been an honour roll student, with grade averages of 85% and 83.7% in her first and second Grade 12 terms. In her third term, after the accident, her grade average dropped to 53.25%, and she graduated with a grade average of 78.1% for the year. Before the accident, she had planned to study engineering at UBC and take a full course load, which was a very realistic expectation given her history. Afterwards, due to the accident, she was only able to carry a part-time course load at SFU.

By the time of trial, Amy had obtained 67 of the 120 credits needed to graduate. Her graduation had already been delayed by a year and 7 months, and that delay was likely to become two years. She now planned to go on to graduate school for a Master’s degree and work in public health or health administration.

The court awarded her $70,000 as compensation for two years of delayed university graduation. This was based on a yearly starting salary of $35,000 that she could expect to get in a suitable job after she graduated.

This case also illustrates that car crash victims may be entitled to compensation for other types of losses. Here, for example, Amy was also awarded $50,000 for her “pain and suffering,” $23,300 for loss of (past) income, $7,500 for loss of housekeeping capacity and $13,750 for costs of future care (such as physiotherapy and psychological counselling). She was also awarded some $4,300 for special damages (essentially out-of-pocket costs because of the crash).

There are other types of accident losses that may also be compensated, for example loss of future earning capacity – it depends, in each case, on what it takes to put the victim, so far as practically possible financially, in the same position as if the car crash hadn’t happened. Of course, the devil is always in the details of each particular situation, and there is often some vigorous debate between the lawyers for the victim and those of the defendant (often in reality representing an insurance company like ICBC) about what damages really are due to a particular car crash.

If you’re injured in a car crash, it makes sense to seek legal advice promptly. Your lawyer can advise you and help you obtain the compensation to which you may be entitled.

Janice Mucalov, LL.B. for Gertsoyg & Company. This column provides information only and must not be relied on for legal advice. Please call Gertsoyg & Company at (604) 602-3066 for a free legal consultation concerning your particular case.

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