Who is Eligible for Pain and Suffering Damages?
Sustaining an injury in an accident can be a challenging experience. No one expects a run-of-the-mill experience, like a car ride or a trip to the store, to turn into a traumatic event.
When injuries occur, accident victims may face long recovery periods, expensive costs of medical care, lost income from an inability to work, a reduced earning capability, and other financial burdens. If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, you may decide to pursue legal action against them to recover financial compensation for the costs you’ve incurred, or will incur. The total amount of these economic, or “pecuniary” costs might be easily calculated by keeping records of every expense stemming from your injury or injuries.
However, depending on the severity of the injuries sustained, accident survivors could also endure emotional turmoil and distress. In these cases, injured victims may also be entitled to recover costs for general, “non-pecuniary” damages for repercussions from their accidents that may be more difficult to quantify. These non-economic damages may include any physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering an accident victim has endured, or will endure in the future as a result of their injuries. Examples of pain and suffering damages include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Physical pain or discomfort
- And possibly more
It can be difficult to put a price-tag on an accident victim’s pain and suffering. In Nova Scotia, there is a legislated minor injury ‘cap’ on non-pecuniary damages for pain and suffering that is applicable in very specific cases involving injuries from motor vehicle accidents limited to sprains, strains and whiplash associated disorder. However, generally speaking there is no standard test or definitive set of qualifications to determine exactly how much an injured person might receive for their specific damages. The cost of individual victims’ pain and suffering claims is determined on a case by case basis, in relation to the unique circumstances of the victim’s experience.
If you’re unsure if your injury qualifies you to pursue financial compensation for pain and suffering, the assistance and legal experience of a Nova Scotia personal injury lawyer may help clarify the options available to you.
Conditions That May Qualify You to Pursue Pain and Suffering Damages
Important conditions for a determination of entitlement for pain and suffering damages include:
- The nature of and medical evidence relating to each injury sustained.
- Whether the victim’s injuries are permanent, with no chance of recovery.
- The severity of a victim’s injuries and whether any will have a serious impact on their quality of life.
- Whether an impairment affects one of the victim’s important physical, mental, or psychological functions.
To pursue damages for pain and suffering, these injuries must have been caused by another person’s negligence. Negligence occurs when a person owes a duty of care to others, and fails to take reasonable measures to exercise that duty. For example, all motor vehicle drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable caution behind the wheel for the sake of all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers. If a driver shirks this duty by violating traffic laws, they may be considered negligent.
Owners of both commercial and residential properties also owe a duty of reasonable care to their premises’ rightful visitors. These might include guests, customers, employees, and tenants who have the right to be on the property. Property owners or managers should be aware of hazards on their premises. A failure to properly remove, repair, or warn rightful visitors about safety concerns in or around their building could result in preventable accidents. If this failure to exercise reasonable care leads to injury, the property owner may be liable for damages caused by their negligence.
When motor vehicle collisions, premises liability accidents, and other calamities caused by someone else’s negligence occur, the course of a victim’s entire life could be affected. Accident victims may even sustain catastrophic injuries including:
- Loss of limb
- Permanent disfigurement
- Loss of eyesight
- And possibly more
Is There a Limit to the Amount of Money You Can Get for Pain and Suffering?
In the late 1970s, the Supreme Court of Canada imposed a cap on the total amount of damages a seriously injured accident victim may be able to receive as compensation for pain and suffering. Because of this action, unlike many litigious Americans who are able to pursue very costly claims, injured Canadians can only recover a limited amount of money for pain and suffering.
When this financial limitation was originally imposed, the cost of non-pecuniary damages available to injured accident victims was $100,000. After more than forty years, this cost has been adjusted for inflation, and is now roughly $360,000.
This financial cap is applied to cases involving accident victims whose injuries meet the threshold of “serious impairments,” as outlined above. In Nova Scotia, the total available costs of pain and suffering damages are subject to even greater limitations if the victim’s injuries are not considered to be severe.
The Nova Scotia Insurance Act regulates the amount of compensation the province’s injured car accident victims can collect for pain and suffering. The Act’s Minor Injury Cap imposes a limit on the amount of money a car accident victim can collect for pain and suffering caused by minor injuries. These injuries may include sprains, strains, low-grade forms of whiplash, and others.
Applied in 2010, regulatory changes to the Insurance Act capped the pain and suffering award limit for minor injuries at $7,500. More than a decade later, even when adjusted for inflation, the available monetary award for pain and suffering damages for minor injuries is still less than $10,000.
Proving Pain and Suffering in Court
If the injuries you sustained in an accident prevent you from performing the same activities you enjoyed before your incident, or from performing the duties of your job, you may experience a diminished quality of life, all because of another person’s negligence. In these circumstances, a Nova Scotia lawyer may be able to help you recover financial compensation for pain and suffering, in addition to any economic costs you may have incurred as a result of your injuries.
Proving the degree to which an accident survivor’s pain and suffering affects their quality of life can be difficult. Every person’s experience of physical pain and emotional distress is unique and subjective.
In order to substantiate a victim’s claim, and illustrate the toll pain and suffering has taken on their client’s lives, a lawyer may compile and present various forms of evidence. These types of evidence may include:
- Medical records
- Attending physicians’ reports
- Testimonies from medical experts
- Medical prognosis
- Psychiatric assessments
- Personal impact statements
- Statements from eyewitnesses to the accident
- Video surveillance footage or photographic evidence from the accident scene
- And possibly more
While the cost of non-pecuniary damages like pain and suffering can be difficult to quantify, by presenting a thorough collection of evidence, a personal injury lawyer may be able to illustrate the degree to which another party’s negligence negatively impacted an accident victim’s quality of life. By doing so, they may be able to help their clients recover the financial compensation to which they’re entitled.
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers Today
If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation for economic and non-economic damages. To discuss the circumstances of the accident and learn if you’re eligible to pursue damages for pain and suffering you’ve endured as a result, contact us today.