In our previous blog post on tort law, we discussed the two cornerstones of all tort law: liability and quantum. This blog posts provides an overview of the concept of quantum, specifically in the context of personal injury law.
This is a general overview, and does not cover the full range and depth of possible quantum issues that might arise on any given file.The determination of quantum and assessment of damages is complex, and there are many factors that can affect a personal injury file. If you have been involved in a collision or accident, contact a personal injury lawyer to learn more about your legal rights and options.
What is “quantum”?
Quantum is the Latin word for quantity. As a legal concept, quantum means the amount of money legally payable in damages.
What are damages?
Damages are monetary compensation that an injured person may recover from the wrongdoer who is liable for causing his or her injuries. Damages can be awarded for actual monetary losses suffered by an injured person, as well as for pain and suffering, and other things.
To learn more about the different types of damages in personal injury cases, read out blog post here.
How is quantum determined?
Determining quantum is not a strictly mathematical calculation; it is a nuanced and complex, contextual analysis and assessment of the injured person’s past and future losses and injuries and the effect that they have had on the injured person’s life.
Ultimately, the goal, in assessing quantum and awarding or agreeing to damages, is to put the injured person back into the place or condition that they would have been in, but for the accident. However, the Courts recognize that they cannot undo the wrongs and harms that have been done to a person. The Court cannot go back in time and stop someone from getting whiplash or undo their broken bones. So, instead, a person who is injured can awarded money as damages (quantum) as a way of repairing the harm that was done to them.
At the same time, the goal is also to not unjustly burden the wrongdoer by awarding damages that put the injured person in a better position than he or she was in before the accident. The wrongdoer is only liable to pay damages that compensate the injured person for actual losses suffered, as best as money can provide. To require the wrongdoer to pay for more damage than he or she actually caused, absent aggravating circumstances, would be unjust. An injured person may be entitled to receive some monetary award to compensate them for their injuries but they are not entitled to a “windfall”. That is, being injured and pursuing a personal injury case, should not be a source of betterment like winning the lottery.
The question that is asked is: to what extent can money ameliorate the effects of the injured person’s injuries?
The court may consider the effect the injuries have of the injured person’s lifestyle, personality, sense of being, self worth, relationships, and lifestyle, as well as specific, defined sums that the injured person has lost, has had to spend or will have to spend as a result of their injuries.