What Does The "Pain And Suffering" Cap Mean For You?

Posted on: 3 February 2015


If you've been injured in a car crash or other accident, you may be wondering whether you'll ever be able to return to your normal life. You may still be paying bills that began to pile up during your time off work, or find yourself responsible for medical expenses as a result of your accident. Although you may be able to recover these costs (along with compensatory damages for pain and suffering) from the person responsible for your injuries, the Canadian government has placed limits on the type of compensation you can receive. Read on to learn more about the cap on "pain and suffering" damages and what this may mean for your personal injury claim.

What is the "pain and suffering" cap?

In the early 1980s, the Canadian Supreme Court determined that there was no amount of money that could truly compensate someone for the loss of a limb or another type of severe injury. As a result, the Court capped the amount of non-compensatory damages an individual could receive at $100,000 (today equivalent to around $345,000). This means that although you can recover the full cost of your medical expenses, lost wages, and any other quantifiable damages incurred, you can receive no more than $345,000 in damages for pain and suffering you endured -- even if you are paralyzed or have lost a limb. Although these factors will impact the amount of pain and suffering damages you're awarded, the judge will be unable to set this amount at more than $345,000.

How will this affect your personal injury case?

Because most personal injury cases settle before they ever see the inside of a courtroom, the cap on pain and suffering will impact the total amount you are offered by the defendant in settlement negotiations. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure that the settlement you reach is fair and won't result in financial hardship.

First, determine and document what ongoing costs will result from your accident. If your doctor recommends you continue a course of physical therapy for several years, get this in writing and ensure that you will receive enough in settlement funds to cover any costs incurred from this therapy. If your injury caused you to switch jobs and lose pay, ask for the defendant to provide the difference in salaries for a specified period of time.

Next, document how the injury has affected your daily life and quality of living. The younger you are, and the more severe your injury, the more "valuable" your injury will be for settlement purposes. Although you may not be offered the full $345,000 in pain and suffering damages, you may receive an amount sufficient to get you any help you need. For more information, contact a personal injury lawyer in your area.