Where can I find out how much has been awarded in personal injury cases in BC?
I’m trying to understand what an average damage award might look like.
There are different ways you can be affected by your injuries after an accident. As a result, the law provides different types of damages.
Non-pecuniary damages, also known as general damages, are meant to compensate you for the pain and suffering your injuries have caused you. They also cover loss of enjoyment of life and loss of amenities. These damages don’t come with a receipt or invoice. Trying to put a dollar figure on all of them isn’t easy.
Non-pecuniary damages are usually determined based on what other injured people about your age with similar injuries have been awarded by the courts. You may be able to get a similar dollar amount.
You can search for cases like yours on CanLII. This is a database of BC court cases from the last 30+ years. In the “Document text” box, try searching by the type of injuries you suffered. To start, enter the type of accident you’ve had. If you don’t get many results, try again with just the type of injuries. So if you were injured in a car accident, you might type:
motor vehicle accident, headaches, broken arm
Once the search results appear, click the “Cases” tab. Focus in on the cases that are most similar to yours. They should give you an idea of the kinds of damage awards courts have made. Note the range of non-pecuniary damages that the courts awarded. Each case is unique — hence the different damage amounts. How serious your injuries are and how your life has been affected both matter. Factors like your age, pre-existing conditions, and who’s at fault are also relevant.
Other types of damages
There are some damages where you may not need to rely on case law. Gather all your out-of-pocket losses or expenses that were due to the accident or your injuries. Examples include medical receipts or replacement items you’ve had to purchase. As well, include all wages or other income you lost due to the accident or your injuries.
Future losses are also a category that will be specific to your situation. Estimating future losses can be tricky. You’ll likely need opinions from financial and medical experts. If your ability to earn income from work will continue to be affected by your injuries, you’ll want to estimate your loss of earning capacity. You might also want to claim the cost of future care. This is for future medication, treatment, assistance or devices you will need for your injuries.
When it’s time for settlement discussions or trial, you need to be prepared to suggest or accept an amount of damages for your injuries. To help with your calculations, check out this five-step process.