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Car Accident Injuries > How Much is Your Pain and Suffering Worth?

If you are hurt in a car accident, how much is your pain and suffering worth by way of damages?

Answer – it depends on whether your injuries are minor or serious in nature.  It also depends on the location of your accident, as different provinces deal with this issue differently.

For serious injuries, pain and suffering damages are capped and the maximum you can receive is approximately $315,000 (more on this in tomorrow’s blog).

For minor injuries, the law may limit your pain and suffering damages.  Different provinces try to limit lawsuit claims for minor injuries in different ways.

Alberta Car Accidents.  Until recently, Alberta limited pain and suffering damages to $4,000 for minor injuries (which essentially are soft tissue injuries).  Then the Alberta court struck down that law in 2008, thereby removing this $4,000 limit.

A news story yesterday in Alberta regarding a 40% requested increase in that province’s auto insurance premiums.

In part, the 40% increase request reflects the industry’s concern that without this $4,000 limit, they will face higher lawsuit claims for pain and suffering damages.  The $4,000 limit was struck down in Morrow v. Zhang (2008 Alberta Queen’s Bench).  The Alberta Court of Appeal has heard the appeal and a decision is anticipated shortly.

Nova Scotia Car Accidents.  In Nova Scotia, the limit to pain and suffering damages is $2,500 for minor injuries.  This limit was upheld recently in Hartling v. Nova Scotia (2009 Nova Scotia Supreme Court – Part One and Part Two of the Hartling decision), whereby the Court rejected the challenge to their version of a $2,500 monetary limit to damages arising from minor injuries.

Ontario Car Accidents.  In Ontario, a “threshold test” is applied to determine whether the plaintiff is even entitled to claim pain and suffering damages.  If the plaintiff is entitled to receive pain and suffering damages, then a $30,000 deductible will be applied to reduce the pain and suffering damages (unless the plaintiff suffers serious injury which results in an award of $100,000 or more for pain and suffering damages).

For more information on the Ontario Bill 198 regime relating to pain and suffering damages, see- our Feb/09 blog and our March/09 blog.

In Ontario, there was an unsuccessful challenge in 1992 to the threshold test – Hernandez v. Palmer (1992), 15 C.C.L.I. (2d) 187 (Ontario General Division) – but there have not been challenges since to the threshold regime.

The Other Provinces in Canada.  For an outline of the different auto regimes in Canada, seeParagraphs 60-66 of Mr. Justice Wittmann’s judgment in Morrow v. Zhang.

Gregory Chang
Toronto Insurance Litigation Lawyer