Injuries can have a huge effect on your life. Some of those effects can be easily quantified into dollars and cents, for example, lost wages or future care costs. However, other categories are not so easily quantified, such as pain and suffering caused by the injury. These are very real losses, but often, they cannot hope to be properly compensated with money. Instead, the approach to these losses is to provide additional funds as consolation for these effects. Courts have created sets of caps and rules for pain and suffering damages, in an attempt to ensure people receive an additional fund of money to make life more endurable, without overburdening the public purse and causing insurance premiums to skyrocket.
What are Pain and Suffering Damages?
The goal of any personal injury claim is to put the injured person back in their original position, had the injury not occurred due to the negligence of the at-fault party. Compensation is categorized into various heads of damage, that compensate for various effects of the injury sustained. More information on the various heads of damage and factors that affect the value of your claim can be found here.
Pain and suffering damages fall under the head of general damages, also called non-pecuniary damages, as they are not easily quantifiable. The purpose of non-pecuniary damages is not to compensate for the loss, since that is typically accounted for under wage loss and future care costs. It instead attempts to provide a fund that makes living life more endurable for the injured person.
Factors to Consider when quantifying Pain & Suffering
There are various factors to consider when attempting to determine the value of general damages claim. Some of the common factors considered by personal injury lawyers include:
The severity of your injury
The pain caused by your injury
The emotional impact of your injury
The loss of enjoyment of life you have experienced because of your injury
The loss of your future expectations or plans due to your injury
Limits on compensation for some car accident injury claim.
Because general damages awards are not intended to compensate for the injury, which is dealt with in other categories, but instead provide an additional fund to make life more bearable, courts and legislation have imposed upper limits on the amount you can receive. This depends on the severity of the injury and the longevity of the effects. Your injury may fall into any of the following categories:
Is your injury persistently troubling?
In Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court’s decision in Smith v Stubbert creates a range of general damages that are available for injuries that are persistently troubling, but not totally disabling. This case was decided in 1992, when the range was $14,000-$40,000. Adjusting this range for inflation, it is approximately $32,000-$65,000 in 2019.
Where your injuries fall within the range will vary based on the factors listed above, and the severity of the injury’s impact on your life. Remember that awards in this range must be "persistent". This will be consider by insurance company adjuster to mean ongoing and expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Many personal injury victims who seek a large amount of money for their injuries directly after an injury claim will be met with a firm negative response from the insurance company because injuries were too recent to assess.
For more information on the Smith v Stubbert decision, check out this article.
Is your injury disabling?
For injuries that are totally disabling, the compensation available will exceed the upper end of the Smith v Stubbert range. In a 1978 case called Andrews v Grand & Toy, the Supreme Court of Canada imposed a cap of $100,000 for the most severe injuries, such as quadriplegia and severe brain injury. Adjusted for inflation, that is now approximately $400,000 in 2019. This top amount is typically only awarded in the most severe cases, so compensation for most injuries will fall below that value.
Some personal injury victims will have serious injuries that require large amounts of compensation in order to ensure they are treated fairly. In many cases, medical expert evidence will be needed to demonstrate the severity of the injuries to the insruance company in order for them to recognize the significance of the injuries and the need for compensation.
Have your injuries fully healed?
If your injuries have healed and are no longer troubling, you may not fall into the Smith v Stubbert range, but you will still be eligible for compensation. This compensation will likely fall below the lower end of the Smith v Stubbert range ($30,000).
In another scenario, you may be severely disabled by your injury, while retaining independence in a few areas, and not having an injury of the most severe kind such as quadriplegia. You may be eligible for compensation for your pain and suffering beyond the upper end of the Smith v Stubbert range ($65,000), but it will fall below the cap of $100,000.
Car accident injuries have additional considerations, including Minor Injury Cap legislation. More information on pain and suffering damages for car accident claims can be found here.
How to accurately quantify your pain and suffering
The amount of compensation for pain and suffering you may be eligible for will depend on many factors, including the severity of your injury, the extent it has affected your life, and the type of injury. Given the wide array of factors and the different ranges and caps on general damages, a personal injury lawyer will be a helpful resource to help you determine what compensation you are due.
NOVA Injury Law offers free consultation for all types of car accident claim. There is no risk or obligation to proceed with your claim following the consultation. You will leave the consultation knowing how to assess your car accident claim, whether a personal injury lawyer can add value to your claim, and whether Jeff Mitchell is the right lawyer for your case.
If you would like to speak to a lawyer about the value and strength of your injury claim, do not hesitate to speak with a personal injury lawyer directly.
Jeff Mitchell is Principal Lawyer and Founder of NOVA Injury Law. Jeff has dedicated his practice to the area of personal injury, accident, and disability benefits law. Contact 1.800.262.8104 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a free case review today.
NOVA Injury Law, located in Bedford, NS, is a personal injury law firm. We provide approachable, responsive, and compassionate representation to victims of car accidents, slip & falls, long term disability benefits denial, birth injuries, brain injuries, property damage, medical malpractice, and faulty products. We’re the only law firm in Atlantic Canada with a Doctor on the team.