Many people lose employment income as a result of injuries sustained in car accidents. Making an appropriate determination of these wage losses is not always an easy task. This is particularly true when dealing with individuals who run private businesses with variable income.
The Supreme Court of British Columbia recently rendered a decision where the plaintiff was denied a claim for business losses, as he simply could not prove them:
(b) Loss of Landscaping Income
 The calculation of the loss of income from the landscaping business of Mr. Amini is impossible to ascertain. First, his landscaping business appears to have been a cash business and there are no accurate records in evidence relating to what was received or what was then disbursed as business expenses. Second, the “Business Income” reflected in his Income Tax Returns allows me to conclude that he was probably not declaring income from his landscaping business or that the income from this source equalled the expenses from both of his undertakings. For instance, his business income for 2009 is shown as $14,450 whereas the income received from the North Shore News was $34,058.27. A similar pattern is established for 2010 ($29,535.00 instead of $29,505.02), 2011 ($29,735.00 instead of $28,812.54), and 2012 ($28,734.00 instead of $27,670.19). Third, the net business income for the years 2010 through 2012 allows me to conclude that many expenses were written off against any income that was reported from his landscaping business and/or from the North Shore News income. In the circumstances, I am not satisfied that Mr. Amini has proven on a balance of probabilities that he suffered a reduction of income from his landscaping business as a result of the accident.
The injured party has the burden of proving their claim. In this particular case, the judge decided that Mr. Amini could not provide sufficient evidence to prove his claim for wage losses stemming from his landscaping business. His tax returns did not reflect this income loss, and Mr. Amini did not present additional evidence to make up for this short coming.
The issue of improperly completed tax returns creates additional issues. When determining an award, a judge will have to look to the credibility of the parties. If an injured party appears to have not told the complete truth on his tax returns, it can affect their credibility as a whole. The judge may, after seeing that a person is willing to lie on their tax return, determine that they are also willing to lie in court.
A good lawyer will tell you that the key to proving any claim is supporting evidence, which includes proper documentation. Even in negotiation stages, that take place prior to trial, ICBC will weigh the evidence in front of them before offering any kind of settlement.