The following will give you a general idea of the compensation you can receive from a personal injury lawsuit. Included are examples of past cases to give you insight into what to expect from a personal injury case. For more legal advice contact our personal injury lawyer at Equilibrium law for a free consultation.
Compensatory vs non-compensatory damages
In personal injury lawsuits, an injured party can receive financial compensation for 2 broad categories: compensatory damages and non-compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are meant to help compensate the victim for some type of loss. Non-compensatory damages are also called punitive damages. The purpose of awarding these damages is to punish the party at fault for your injuries. Punitive damages are usually only awarded in cases when the actions of the at-fault party were malicious or were the result of a recklessly negligent party.
Types of compensatory damages
There are two subcategories of compensatory damages: pecuniary losses and non-pecuniary losses.
1. Pecuniary damages
Pecuniary damage is the legal term for financial compensation awarded for economic losses you experienced as a result of your injuries. These are losses you can prove by producing receipts of bills/expenses. You can also prove income loss by providing payslips and tax returns. The following are some of the specific financial losses you can recuperate in personal injury claims.
Can I recover medical expenses in a personal injury lawsuit?
Yes, a personal injury lawyer can help you recuperate any medical expenses from your injuries. In Ontario, OHIP covers most expenses related to medical care but not everything. There are some health care services that are not at all covered by OHIP or are only partially covered by OHIP. This includes things like dental care, massage therapy, physiotherapy, attendant care, seeing a licensed mental health care professional, and some cosmetic procedures.
In a case where a 15-year-old girl was bitten on her face by a dog resulting in scarring, she was awarded $10 000 to cover laser treatment on the scar and $2500 for sunscreen to protect her scar. (Read the full post here: Teenager Wins Lawsuit after Suffering Horrific Facial Injuries From a Dog Attack)
A lawsuit can also help recover costs for medicine and other medical equipment like crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, and leg/arm braces. You can also sue for any dental expenses resulting from your injury. Insurance companies or benefits will cover some of your medical bills. Filing a legal claim will allow you to get your medical expenses fully covered. It’s important to keep track of your medical bills and medical records so that you can be fully compensated. You can also receive compensation for future medical treatments and the cost of future care.
Can I recuperate cleaning and house maintenance costs in a personal injury lawsuit?
If your injuries rendered you unable to do household chores and you had to hire someone to clean and do maintenance you can recover the costs in a lawsuit. You can be awarded money to cover past and future expenses.
A man who was seriously injured in a bike accident was awarded $45,000 for future housekeeping and home maintenance expenses. He was hit by a car while riding his bike and suffered a soft tissue injury to his back. The physical impairment affected his ability to perform house chores and duties so he was compensated for his loss in the court settlement. (Read the full post here: Cyclist awarded $200k after being struck by a car)
Can I recuperate past and future loss of income in a personal injury lawsuit?
Yes, in a personal injury settlement you can be awarded money for past and future lost wages. Depending on the severity of your injuries you may have had to take time off work. For minor injuries, you may have missed a couple of weeks or months. For more severe injuries you may have missed a year or more of work. If you suffered catastrophic injuries you may never return to work. Regardless of the length of time, you couldn’t work you can recover compensation for those lost wages.
If medical experts suggest that you no longer work or that you work a less taxing job that pays less you can be compensated for all the future income you will lose. Determining future loss of income can be complicated but our personal injury lawyers have years of experience and can help determine the amount you are owed.
A woman was awarded over $700,000 for past and future loss of income after she suffered a traumatic brain injury in a cycling accident. She was biking on a recreational trail owned by the city of Fort Erie when she hit a poorly visible obstruction on the path. She crashed to the ground and hit her head on the pavement. Following her head injury, she had trouble focusing and was often forgetful which interfered with her ability to work at the same level as she did prior to her personal injuries. The city was negligent in the maintenance of the trail and was found responsible for her injuries. Read the full post here: Woman receives $700,000 after severe head injury from biking accident
Loss of competitive advantage
Sometimes your injury may not result in immediate financial losses. However, if your injuries prevent you from pursuing a promotion or a higher-paying job you can be awarded compensation for loss of competitive advantage.
Most jobs are accommodating and can alter your responsibilities so that you can continue to work. In cases where you may not have suffered past or future income loss, you can still recuperate money for loss of competitive advantage. For instance, if due to your injuries the pain will only get worse over time and you won’t be able to work until 65 (the retirement age for the average Canadian) you have lost a competitive advantage. Or if your injuries limit you from getting a better job or a promotion since you can’t work more hours or do physical labor you can be awarded money for loss of competitive advantage. This will help compensate you for your inability to compete with others in the job market.
Loss of competitive advantage can also be awarded to compensate for the increased likelihood of unemployment in the future. For instance, if you lose the job you currently have and your injuries make you less desirable to other employers those injuries have increased your likelihood of unemployment and you can be compensated.
In a recent case, the judge awarded a woman $100,000 for loss of competitive advantage after suffering serious injuries in a car accident. The woman was a passenger in a car that was hit from the back by another vehicle. As a result, she now suffers from chronic pain in her right shoulder, neck, and back which affects her ability to sleep and her mood. Due to the pain and fatigue, she is more irritable, less able to concentrate, and suffers from intermittent depression and anxiety. She received certain accommodations and still works as a scientist at the job she had before the accident and continues to make the same income post-accident. However, her supervisor indicated that her injuries have affected her potential for management positions. The judge was convinced that were it not for her injuries she would have advanced in her employment and therefore awarded her $100,000 for loss of competitive advantage. Read the full post here: Woman wins big in lawsuit for injuries suffered in a car accident.
Can I recover property damage costs in a personal injury lawsuit?
In accidents where your property is damaged, you can recover money to compensate for your damaged property. For instance, if you were in a boating accident, bicycle accident, or motor vehicle accident and your boat, bike, or car were damaged you can be financially compensated for the damage. Furthermore, if there was damage to your property like a car going into your house you can file a legal claim to receive monetary compensation for the damages.
What are special damages?
Special damages are compensations awarded for any other economic losses related to your injury that don’t fit in the other categories.
For example, you can be compensated for your gas mileage to travel to and from medical treatments. This would be compensation awarded under special damages.
How do I prove future economic losses in a lawsuit?
To be awarded financial compensation for future economic losses such as income and care costs the injured person must prove that there is a real possibility that they will experience such a loss. Medical expert evidence is usually used to prove that the injuries will affect the person’s ability to continue to work as well as their need for care. Financial experts are hired to provide predictions of future loss of income.
Claiming loss of future income for children or younger adults who have not entered the workforce or have not reached their fullest potential in their employment is similar. They must prove that the field they wanted to work in or the promotions they expected to receive were a real possibility.
For example, if a high school student was hoping to become a mechanic but suffered a spinal injury that paralyzed them from the waist down in a car accident they could receive compensation in the amount of a mechanics’ salary. However, they must prove they were going to become a mechanic were it not for their injuries. If they are able to work another job that pays less they would only get the amount difference between the lesser paying job and what they could have made as a mechanic.
2. Non-Pecuniary damages
The other type of compensatory damage is for non-pecuniary losses. Non-pecuniary losses encompass any non-economic damages you may have suffered as a result of your injuries. Non-pecuniary damages are often referred to as general damages.
Can I be compensated for pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit?
Yes. The following are some specific non-economic losses you can be awarded in personal injury lawsuits.
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional damage
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In a recent personal injury case, a teenage girl was awarded $300,000 in non-pecuniary damages for the emotional distress and mental anguish she suffered after being sexually assaulted by her high school teacher. After she was sexually assaulted, she was scared to go to school and lost her love for band and music. Her teachers had noticed she was unhappy less involved and withdrawn. She began drinking and skipping class and her grades deteriorated. She became depressed and started to self-harm, and was suicidal. Her diminished self-esteem and depression led to underemployment and a marriage to an abusive man. The woman faced serious emotional trauma from her abuse and was awarded compensation.
It’s hard to determine the monetary value of pain and suffering caused by an incident therefore it varies for each individual case based on the severity of the physical pain and emotional distress suffered.
How much money can I get in a personal injury lawsuit?
You can be compensated for any financial loss you experienced as a result of your injuries regardless of how much it is. You can be fully compensated for medical expenses, income loss, future care costs, and any other economic expenses that resulted from your accident.
You can also receive financial compensation for pain and suffering. Unlike economic losses, there is a cap on the amount you can be awarded for pain and suffering. Since these damages aren’t accurately quantifiable in a money amount, in 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled to put an upper limit of $100,000 for pain and suffering. Due to inflation, this value has increased to about $418,000 in 2022. However, exceptions can be made to this cap.
How much money can I get for my injuries suffered in a car accident?
In Ontario insurance is mandatory for motor vehicles therefore if you get into a car accident insurance will cover most of your damages and expenses. You can claim statutory accident benefits/no-fault accident benefits which provide income replacement benefits, medical expenses benefits, and benefits to cover other losses from your physical injuries. For more information on how much you can claim from your insurance company check out the statutory accident benefits schedule or read our post to learn more about car accident insurance and car accident cases.
Insurance companies do have a cap on how much money they will give in statutory accident benefits. If you feel like your insurance payout did not cover all your damages and expenses you can sue to get full compensation. You can only recover compensation that wasn’t covered by the statutory accident benefits.
I’m a family member of someone who was injured in a car accident can I receive compensation?
Yes. Family members of the injured person can sue under the Family law act. Family members can be compensated for the loss of companionship and any financial loss they may have experienced by having to care for their injured family member.
What legal services does Equilibrium Law offer?
Our personal injury law firm offers legal services for the following personal injury claims:
- auto accident
- motorcycle accidents
- slip and fall case
- medical malpractice
- dog bites/attack
- sport injuries
- bicycle accidents
- boat accident
- elder abuse
We provide legal representation for all kinds of personal injury victims. In the aftermath of a serious accident, our team of personal injury lawyers will help you every step of the way and find the best way to support you through the legal process. With us on your side, you can have the peace of mind that you will receive full and fair compensation.
If you are an injured person or have a tort claim contact our experienced Ottawa personal injury attorneys. Our law firm specializes in civil litigation so you can rest assured you are in good hands. We have a track record of serving Ottawa residents in the best way possible through the entire process. Contact us today for a free legal consultation.