Personal injury claims often seek compensation for damages classified as “Pain and Suffering.”
While few would deny that a person undergoes substantial pain and suffering after an injury from a car accident or any other type of accident, nailing down a definition for “pain and suffering” can be tricky.
Pain and suffering varies from person to person and case to case. This means it is not always easy to define.
Putting a monetary value on it can be even more difficult. However, courts in Alberta have developed and standardized methods for assessing pain and suffering compensation in personal injury claims.
Let’s take a look at some common practices and help you get an idea of what you can expect when pursuing compensation for pain and suffering in a personal injury case.
Nature of Pain and Suffering Damages
In Alberta, pain and suffering is defined in the legal context as both the mental and physical distress suffered by a person due to an injury.
Unlike other damages typically awarded in a personal injury claim — such as lost wages or medical expenses — the damages from pain and suffering cannot be clearly quantified. In legal terms, this is referred to as non-pecuniary damages.
Despite these damages being inherently unquantifiable, the court still awards pain and suffering damages when it can be demonstrated that the injury affected the person’s ability to engage in and enjoy daily activities.
Challenges of Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
Where economic damages (i.e. medical bills, lost income, equipment, etc) can clearly be measured and quantified, calculating pain and suffering damages is not as easy as tallying up some receipts.
Further complicating matters is the fact that while there are legal precedents which guide us in the process of determining pain and suffering damages, there is no hard formula used to calculate pain and suffering damages.
Because pain and suffering is subjective and varies from individual to individual, the burden falls on the personal injury attorney and their client to present as much clear evidence and documentation as possible which demonstrates the various ways in which the injury has resulted in mental and physical pain and suffering.
This means not only demonstrating that the client has symptoms, but also showing how these symptoms have affected their lifestyle and caused them additional pain and suffering.
Some of the most common forms of pain and suffering which result from an accident include:
- Reduced physical capability
- Inability to perform or enjoy hobbies or daily activities
- Inability to complete chores and daily tasks
- Depression and anxiety
- Reduced socialization
- Cognitive impacts
- Psychological distress
- Weakness and exhaustion
- Reduced sexual function
Demonstrating pain and suffering may necessitate evidence such as documentation from doctors and mental health professionals, testimony from friends, family, and co-workers, testimony from the victim themselves, and any supporting documents or evidence which can demonstrate their past or ongoing pain and suffering.
It is also important that any pain and suffering claimed as part of a personal injury claim must be clearly linked to the accident and injury in question.
Limits on Pain and Suffering Damages for Alberta Car Accidents
If you’ve suffered a car accident in Alberta involving a soft tissue injury, the maximum pain and suffering compensation you can be paid is capped at $5,296 (as of 2020) if the injury does not result in “serious impairment.”
Injuries which do cause “serious impairment” are not subject to this cap.
Severe injuries such as fractures, any injury resulting in a disability or permanent damage, and mental anguish, are not subject to this cap.
This cap does not restrict the total compensation of the entire case, only the total compensation for pain and suffering damages in personal injury claims involving car accidents in Alberta, Canada.
However, Canada does have a cap on the maximum amount of non-pecuniary damages from a personal injury claim, which is set at $370,000.
The best way to get an assessment of the value of your pain and suffering claim is to contact one of Diamond & Diamond’s expert car accident lawyers. They will be able to give you the advice you need and begin the process of evaluating your pain and suffering damages.
Consult with a Diamond & Diamond Alberta Car Accident Lawyer Now
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“Never let your expectations get too big. Keep things realistic. You need evidence that supports prolonged pain and suffering after your accident to establish a valid claim. Without the right evidence, the damages you can claim will be minimal.”
FAQs on Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages in Alberta Car Accidents
What is the meaning of loss of enjoyment for life?
Loss of enjoyment for life refers to a person’s inability to enjoy their daily life after suffering an injury. This might result from inability to work, perform daily tasks, participate in hobbies or sports, depression, anxiety, or other mental issues which resulted from their accident.
Can one sue for pain and suffering damages for a deceased loved one?
Yes. It is possible to sue for pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to their death, as well as for pain and suffering caused to immediate family and loved ones due to grief and mental anguish suffered as a result of the death.
What is loss of consortium?
Loss of consortium refers to the inability of a person to continue a normal marital relationship following an injury. This may be due to loss of sexual function, mental issues resulting from the accident, or other issues which resulted directly from the accident.
Does pain and suffering include the mental anguish experienced by my family because of my injury?
Yes, any non-physical result of the accident or injury, such as mental anguish or emotional distress, could fall under the umbrella of pain and suffering claims.
How soon after an accident can I sue for pain and suffering?
In most cases, you have two years to bring a lawsuit for damages related to an injury accident. This means that, as soon as you get hurt, you have two years from that point to initiate your personal injury lawsuit including pain and suffering.
Can I sue if I had a pre-existing (but manageable) psychological condition that got significantly worse because of the injury I suffered?
Yes, the victim in a personal injury case is entitled to receive compensation for pre-existing conditions to the degree that the accident made them worse. This is known as exacerbation or aggravation of pre-existing conditions.