Injuries from a car accident, a slip and fall or an assault can affect one's ability to continue with day-to-day life. An individual who suffers losses due to another's wrongdoing may have a personal injury claim against those responsible.
A personal injury claim is guided by the losses suffered. The Ontario legal system is structured to restore the injured person, as best possible economically, to the position they were in before their injury occurred. It is generally acknowledged, however, that a civil lawsuit provides imperfect compensation for the simple reason that a person with injuries suffers losses that money cannot make right.
Non-pecuniary general damages vs. pecuniary damages
Generally, there are two main heads of damage recoverable in a lawsuit: non-pecuniary general damages (commonly known as pain and suffering) and pecuniary damages. As the names suggest, the non-pecuniary general damages include losses that are not monetary—losses that one cannot easily put a value figure on it. In turn, pecuniary damages are monetary losses.
Non-pecuniary general damages include factors such as pain and suffering, loss of amenities and loss of expectation of life. In Canada, save in exceptional circumstances, there is a cap to the amount that an injured person may recover under this category of damage. The cap was established back in 1978 by the Supreme Court of Canada at $100,000. Over the years this value has been adjusted and in 2023 the cap is approximately $400,000.
It's not common to have awards for pain and suffering at the maximum cap value; the injuries must be severe and the injured person's ability to live their life highly compromised. Also, there is legislation that further limits the circumstances in which an injured person may recover from this head of damage.
Pecuniary damages have three common subcategories:
- Income loss: this head of damage is to assist those who had to stop working temporarily or permanently due to the injuries.
- Future care cost: this head of damages captures the expenses that the injured person may incur in the future. For instance: health professional assistance, medications and equipment, assistance with housekeeping and home maintenance.
- Out-of-pocket expenses: this head of damages accounts for the expenses that the person pays out of their funds. It is a "catch-all" category of damage. Common examples of out-of-pocket expenses include but are not limited to parking fees, mileage to medical appointments, over-the-counter medications and prescriptions, medical equipment (e.g. wheelchairs, crutches), hired assistance for housekeeping and childcare.
This overview covers the main heads of damages in a personal injury lawsuit. It can be difficult to determine the losses and needs in a claim as they may change depending on the recovery process.
To learn what losses you may be able to recover from your injury, book a free consultation with a Siskinds personal injury lawyer.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.