Career Plans Derailed by Car Accident

People injured in car accidents often struggle to manage the demands of their job. If a person’s capacity to fully perform the requirements of their chosen career are projected to continue into the future, he or she is entitled to be compensated for that loss. But what about people who are not established in a career when they are injured? What about young people who are still in high-school or university? Are they entitled to be compensated for not being able to fully do a job they hadn’t yet obtained?

In these cases, ICBC often says they’re not.

As an example, in the case of Turner v. Dionne, 2017 BCSC 1905, the 19-year-old plaintiff was seriously injured in an accident. She sustained a traumatic brain injury, two fractured vertebrae and extensive soft-tissue injuries to the tissues around her spine. These injuries left her with debilitating and chronic back pain re psychological injuries that affected her ability to work.

The plaintiff had been in the middle of completing grade 12 when the accident happened. She had already obtained her first-aid certification and training to work as a firefighter, and had ambitions to pursue nursing after graduation. After the accident, she attempted to pursue her interest in the medical field first by engaging in a care aide program. Unfortunately, she was unable to complete the physically demanding practicum, which prevented her from completing her training. The plaintiff then made a second attempt to return to the medical field by enrolling in a nursing program. While she successfully completed her first year, she struggled extensively during her second. The program and practicum increased her pain and impaired her sleep so much so that she had to drop-out of the program. Being forced to give-up on her dreams of becoming a nurse was very emotionally difficult for her.

At the time of trial, the plaintiff was unemployed, but still held out hope that she could pursue additional schooling and achieve gainful employment in the future.

ICBC argued that the plaintiff’s difficulties completing her program were in no way related to her injuries and that she dropped-out of nursing, not because she couldn’t physically do the work, but because she wasn’t academically inclined.

The court disagreed with ICBC and found that there was good reason to believe that, absent the accident, the plaintiff would have successfully completed a college diploma program in a medically-related field and that, because of her injuries, she could no longer pursue such work. As a result, the court awarded her $950,000 for loss of future earning capacity.