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Pain and Suffering Damages in Canada > The Sky is Not the Limit

Following up on yesterday’s blog dealing with pain and suffering damages arising from car accidents, how much can you claim for pain and suffering damages in Canada (for any accident)?

Answer – the pain and suffering damage maximum in Canada is currently approximately $315,000.

That is, there is a limit in Canada as to how much you can recover for pain and suffering damages, no matter how serious, catastrophic or devastating your injury.

This limit was set by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1978 at $100,000 through the trilogy of cases: Andrews v. Grand & Toy Alberta Ltd.; Arnold v. Teno; and Thornton v. Board of School Trustees of School District No. 57 (Prince George),  With inflation, that $100,000 amount is now currently approximately $315,000.

There are a number of policy arguments for a limit to pain and suffering damages.  Certainly, a degree of certainty and cost containment has been introduced in Canada that ultimately is reflected in insurance premiums for autos, homes and commercial policies.

The limit on pain and suffering damages in Canada appears to be here to stay, for a while at least:

  • The $100,000 limit was confirmed in 1981 in Lindal v. Lindal (1981 Supreme Court of Canada);
  • It was further confirmed in 1995 in ter Neuzen v. Korn (1995 Supreme Court of Canada); and
  • Leave to appeal in 2006 was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Canada of the Lee v. Dawson (2006 British Columbia Court of Appeal) decision which confirmed the trilogy.  In Lee v. Dawson, the jury at Trial awarded the plaintiff $2M in pain and suffering damages, which was reduced to reflect the upper limit set by the triology.

NOTE – this current $315,000 limit only applies to pain and suffering damages.  There is no limit set by the Supreme Court of Canada for other damages, such as:

  • future income loss or loss of earnings;
  • future health care costs; or
  • future housekeeping and home maintenance costs.

Gregory Chang
Toronto Insurance Litigation Lawyer