How to Calculate Damages in a Personal Injury Case

If you have been injured in an accident or through an intentional act or negligence of the state, employee or another person, you may ask for damages or monetary awards.

Types of Damages

In Ontario, there are two main types of damages in a personal injury case: special and general damages.

Special damages, also known as pecuniary, are monetary awards given to a claimant in a personal injury case who can prove specific economic losses. Examples of economic losses include repair costs, loss of income while recovering, loss of future income, and medical and rehabilitation costs.

General damages, on the other hand, are monetary awards given to a claimant in a personal injury case for his or her non-monetary losses. General damages are also known as non-pecuniary damages. Examples of non-monetary losses include pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical disfigurement and loss of companionship.

How to Calculate Special Damages

Special damages can be accurately calculated by counting the exact amount of economic losses such as medical and rehabilitation costs, repair costs, and loss of income.

How to Calculate General Damages  

Unlike special damages which can be accurately calculated, general damages are difficult to calculate as the losses are mainly subjective. The monetary equivalent for pain and suffering, for instance, cannot be easily defined.

The Supreme Court of Canada, however, put a cap or limit on how much one can receive for general or non-pecuniary damages. In Andrews v. Grand & Toy Alberta Ltd., a case decided in 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada put the ceiling of general damages at $100,000. Counting the inflation rate in Canada, the allowable limit of general damages now stands at approximately $366,000.

The Andrews case arises from the personal injury case filed by Andrews, a young man who was rendered quadriplegic as a result of a traffic accident.

"In the case of a young adult quadriplegic like Andrews the amount of $100,000 should be adopted as the appropriate award for all non-pecuniary loss, includ­ing such factors as pain and suffering, loss of amenities and loss of expectation of life," the highest court of Canada ruled.