Court awards $1,250,000 in Loss of Future Earning Capacity for soft-tissue and emotional injuries

In reasons for judgment released yesterday, the court in Pearson v. Savage, 2017 BCSC 1435, awarded the 21-year-old plaintiff $1,250,000 for loss of future earning capacity in a case involving soft-tissue and emotional injuries.  In Pearson, the plaintiff suffered soft-tissue injuries which eventually caused depression, anxiety, and PTSD.  In making the award for loss of future earning capacity Madam Justice Loo said as follows:

[201]     It is well known that there are inherent difficulties in assessing awards for hypothetical future events. It is often described as “gazing into a crystal ball” or “an estimate based on prophesies,” and the task is even more difficult when dealing with a young person who have not established a career path:  Shapiro v. Dailey, 2012 BCCA 128 at para. 40.


[203]     Ms. Pearson was 21 years old when she was injured. She was pursuing a university degree, and had taken time off from her studies to earn an income so that she could continue with her studies.

[204]     I find that she would have obtained a bachelor’s degree, although she may have changed the direction of the course of her studies to focus on her strengths rather than her relative weaknesses in mathematics. Given her personality, her work history, particularly as relayed by Ms. Kingston, Ms. Pearson was exceptional and highly motivated. Ms. Cameron agreed that Ms. Kingston’s description of Ms. Pearson in the workplace is a description of someone with a high degree of emotional intelligence. The components of emotional intelligence include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation or a passion for work that goes beyond status or money, and the necessary social skills to manage relationships and build networks.


[207]     Ms. Pearson was only 21 at the time of the accident. However, she possessed the attributes to be exceptional at whatever she pursued. The average full-time full-year earnings for a BC female with a bachelor’s degree, excluding law, for all ages, in 2017 dollars, is $66,927, based on the 2011 National Household Survey. The earnings of those in the 70th, 80th and 90th percentile, is $81,274, $90,360, and $104,096, respectively.


[211]     Assuming that Ms. Pearson earned an average of $15,000 over her expected lifetime, and based on the economic multiplier, her lifetime with injury earnings is $299,175. Had the accident not occurred her earnings would have ranged from approximately $1,036,000 (economic multiplier) based on the average earnings, to approximately $1,800,000.


[213]     I conclude that Ms. Pearson has established that there is a real and substantial possibility that she would earn more than the average female with a bachelor’s degree, she would have worked in sports marketing or a similar field, and she would have worked full time, except for limited time off for parental leave.

[214]     I find that an appropriate assessment for loss of earning capacity on a capital asset approach is $1,250,000.

The full decision can be found here: