People who are victims of personal injury due to another party’s negligence in British Columbia are entitled to compensation under the law. This includes compensation for pain and suffering as a direct result of personal injuries.
Compensation for pain and suffering
Compensation for pain and suffering is the financial equivalent of damages suffered as a result of the injury. Determining compensation for pain and suffering can be difficult. Many factors are considered which includes physical and emotional toll on the victim.
How does a personal injury attorney determine pain and suffering?
Compensation is largely determined on previous decisions made by BC Courts for similar injuries and claims. This involves researching previous injury cases that were tried in Court. One would think this would provide a very clear guide for assessing such damages, but that isn’t always the case. Why? Because our Courts can vary on how much compensation is awarded for this head of damage.
Factors that Affect How a BC Court determines pain and suffering
BC Courts take into consideration many factors when determining how much compensation is due for a personal injury claim. In the court case of Boyd v. Harris (2004), 237 D.L.R. (4th) 193 our BC Supreme Court set out the following considerations when determining compensation for pain and suffering:
- Plaintiff’s age
- Nature of injury
- Severity of injury
- Duration of pain
- Emotional suffering
- Long-term disability
- Loss of life
Another case that show-cased some of the factors influencing how much compensation is awarded for pain and suffering is seen in the case of Chamberlin (Litigation Guardian of) v. Profeit,  B.C.W.L.D. 2709:
- Negative effects on marital, social and family relationships
- Negative effects on mental and physical abilities
- Loss of lifestyle
Each of the elements for determining compensation has objective and subjective considerations. In separate cases involving car accidents, each person’s age for example could easily be determined while the psychological stress is different for each victim. Each accident can also produce the same injuries that can easily be assessed by a medical professional but the severity of the pain suffered is a matter that only each individual could determine.
Our injury lawyers stay up-to-date with the latest pain and suffering awards so that we can obtain the best possible result for you. While not a science, when we research your pain and suffering compensation, we do so after extensive discussion with you, your doctors and your treatment providers (as well as reviewing your medical documentation). Pain and suffering is one of those “non-scientific” heads of damage (loss of earning capacity is also a non-scientific head of damage; whereas cost of future care is calculated as closely as possible in as much of a scientific and calculated manner as possible).
What is the maximum available compensation for pain and suffering under BC law?
Currently, the maximum compensation for pain and suffering under British Columbia law is in the neighbourhood of $340,000 or so. This figure is indexed each year and adjusted for inflation. The maximum compensation is also termed as a cap. This was set by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1970’s and has been implemented ever since. Basically, in the late 1970’s, the Supreme Court of Canada established a $100,000 limit for pain and suffering, which figure is adjusted annually or in some cases court case by court case.
Is $340,000 (more or less) the maximum compensation available for personal injury claims?
The cap determines the highest amount available for pain and suffering. This does not include other damages resulting from injury. Other losses might include lost wages, loss of opportunity, long-term health care cost among others. Some of these circumstances like lost wages may demand higher compensation than the cap set by Canada’s Supreme Court. The $340,000 figure was originally set at $100,000 in the 1970s. The cap has since been adjusted for inflation.
Does going to work affect the amount of compensation for pain and suffering?
Continuing to work after filing a claim for personal injury does not prevent you from qualifying for compensation. This means that victims of personal injury don’t have to quit their jobs just to have a valid claim. Compensation for pain and suffering is based on the victim’s personal experience and not on any other circumstances.
The limit is for catastrophic injury cases
If you’re hurt in BC, don’t necessarily expect you’ll be awarded $340,000 for pain and suffering. Most cases fall anywhere from $0 to the top limit. The court uses the above criteria in assessing how much compensation an injured person should be awarded.