In answering this question, let’s start by pointing out that Canada is not the United States. You’ve probably seen or heard about enormous damage settlements south of the border. In the USA, people can receive millions of dollars in settlements for injuries, pain, and suffering. That is not the case in Canada.
In 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a series of decisions on this issue, that still stands today. These decisions placed a cap on the maximum amount of compensation for pain and suffering. They set this amount at $100,000. That ruling still stands and, adjusted for inflation, it means that the most money you can receive for pain and suffering in Canada is about $350,000. To be clear, that’s just for pain and suffering. If someone has suffered irreversible damage in an accident from, say, a brain or spinal injury, a settlement or judgment would include the money necessary to pay for their medical bills and lost income for the rest of their lives. But the actual damages for pain and suffering – both physical and psychiatric – would not exceed around $350,000.
What is an average settlement?
With that starting point clarified, let’s look at what this means for the average person who has been injured in an accident in Newfoundland and Labrador. We’ll start by noting that there are no absolute rules on the dollar value of the injuries that you may have suffered as the result of an accident. There are certainly lots of precedents and a framework, but each case remains unique. Insurance agencies and courts will be assessing three things:
- the physical pain caused by the accident, and the physical discomfort resulting from any and all necessary medical treatment.
- the mental and psychological damages resulting from the accident.
- the length of the recovery period from that accident. The longer it is, the greater the claim for pain and suffering.
To determine this, they will be looking at your medical records. Those are the most objective view of the trauma that you have undergone, and may still be undergoing. That’s why, if you are injured in an accident, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible and to keep them updated on your progress towards recovery. (Or lack of it.) If there is a clear record of you reporting ongoing pain, discomfort, and immobility, it goes a long way towards proving your need for greater compensation.
The truth is that, for most people, any accident settlement will be small. That’s because their pain and suffering have not been demonstrated to be large or ongoing. If you are banged up and miss a few days work, you can expect a small settlement for that. And, of course, any out-of-pocket medical bills will be covered. But both insurance companies and the courts will be unlikely to provide a large settlement for minor injuries. In fact, the average settlement for damages in an auto accident in Newfoundland and Labrador is a few thousand dollars.
What can you expect?
There is one other issue that will help to determine your settlement. It’s how well your case is documented and presented. If you keep an ongoing record from the time of your injury including, say, a journal where you write about what you are experiencing, it will help. It will also help if you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you. They will understand what facts are most important, and what arguments will best influence a court or an insurance agency.
Your case is unique. Damages for the pain and suffering you have experienced will ultimately be determined by its unique details. And by how expertly and professionally those details are laid out. If you have been injured, please talk to us. At Roebthon McKay Marshall, we can give you a ballpark range of what a settlement would most likely be, and then work tirelessly to ensure that your actual settlement will be as high as anyone could reasonably expect.