At the end of a court case or when a case is resolved through an out of court settlement, the money that is paid for pain and suffering, medical bills, loss of income or any other types of losses are called “damages”. Damages is the legal term for the financial compensation paid by a defendant or an insurance company to an injured person or their family. Compensation is broken down into two main categories – general damages and special damages.
If you were injured, you may be wondering, “What is my claim worth?” Injured people throughout Eastern Ontario can turn to our lawyers for help with this question. Call 877-391-2923 to schedule a free case assessment to learn more.
When you hear about court awards or settlements of “$1.8 Million”, or “$175,000”, or any other amount, it is important to know that these amounts are arrived at by adding up individual types of damages that are unique to each case. Some part of the award or settlement may be for pain and suffering (general damages), while some may be for lost income, medical expenses or other damages.
General damages are paid for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. There’s a maximum amount that the court will award for this type of compensation. This cap is determined by reference to a 1978 case (three of them actually) from the Supreme Court of Canada. The Court decided that an injured Canadian could recover no more than $100,000 in compensation for general damages. This number grows each year with inflation and now stands at $371,510 according to McKellar (as of April 2017).
The range of awards for general damages is as wide as the variety of injuries and impairments people sustain in accidents. Someone with a small elbow fracture may be awarded $50,000. On the other hand, someone who suffers a serious traumatic brain injury or paralysis might receive $250,000 or nearer the upper limit of $371,510.
Unlike general damages, there is no “cap” or limit on special damages. While many injured people are very focused on their pain and suffering (general damages), it is the special damages that most often form the largest part of a claim, and which eventually will help the injured person and their family get the treatment and compensation that they deserve and need.
Special damages can be recovered for any provable losses that have been or will likely be incurred as a result of your injuries. A few common examples are loss of income, the cost of medical treatment, mileage for appointments, the cost of housekeeping and home maintenance assistance, prescription costs, and attendant care. The amount of special damages are calculated based upon the amount of the loss ($2,500 per month lost income for example), the duration (if an injured person is 43, and they did not plan to retire until 67 when they could get CPP), and then the likelihood of the loss occurring (based upon the evidence of experts hired to give opinion in the litigation).
To find out more about how your injuries might be assessed by the court, click here.