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How Is Compensation Determined in A Personal Injury Case?


When injured due to another person or organization’s negligence (carelessness), you could be entitled to compensation. Damages is the legal term used to refer to this kind of compensation. There are two types of damages: compensatory and punitive damages. 

On the one hand, compensatory damages make you, the victim, whole again. In other words, this kind of compensation is meant to restitute or restore you to how things were before the accident. Examples of compensatory damages include medical expenses, repair costs, and compensation for pain and suffering. 

On the other hand, punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault party for acting negligently. The purpose of this kind of compensation is to act as a deterrent. Although compensatory damages are awarded for all personal injury claims in Ontario, punitive damages are only awarded for a limited number of cases. 

This article will explain how your personal injury compensation is determined. Read on to find out what your case is worth. 

Compensatory Damages for Personal Injury Claims 

Compensatory damages serve to compensate you for your losses. The intention is to make you whole again after the accident, but only to the possible extent. There are two categories of compensatory damages:

  • Special damages 
  • General damages 

Special Damages 

Also known as economic damages, special damages compensate you for all out-of-pocket expenses resulting from injuries sustained due to the accident. Examples of special damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Medical expenses (past)
  • Lost income (past)
  • Household services while you are recovering 
  • The cost of replacement or repair of damaged property

There is no limit to how much you can recover as special damages in a personal injury case. However, you, the plaintiff, have the burden of proving that you deserve the amount claimed. 

General Damages 

General damages are intended to compensate you for intangible losses, and those that cannot be quantified to a precise singular dollar amount, associated with the injury sustained. As such, it is harder to place a monetary value on general damages. Examples of general damages include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses (future)
  • Lost income (future)
  • Loss of reputation
  • Emotional distress 
  • Loss of consortium
  • Disfigurement or physical disability
  • Inability to spend time with loved ones 
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive Damages for Personal Injury Claims

As the name suggests, punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer for their negligence. It is worth mentioning that this damage is only awarded in select cases involving intentional misconduct like sexual assault, aggravated battery, and fraud causing extensive financial harm. 

Punitive damages can also be granted in cases involving gross negligence. The defendant is said to have been grossly negligent if they disregarded the lives or safety of others. Although punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff, the real intention is to punish the defendant for their conduct and to act as a deterrent. 

How Your Negligent Actions or Inactions Might Affect Your Compensation Amount 

In some cases, you might find that the injured person was partly at fault for causing the accident or that they failed to take appropriate action after the accident. Such facts will likely lower the value of your personal injury claim. 

Contributory Negligence 

If you are partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, you should expect the damages award to reflect that. This is because this principle of contributory negligence links damages to the degree of fault. 

Contributory negligence is a defence available to the defendant where they can prove that their negligence contributed to their injury or losses. The principle calls for the apportionment of loss where the fault lies with both the defendant and the claimant. “Fault” is defined to mean negligence or other act/omission which gives rise to liability in tort. 

Your personal injury compensation claim will be reduced to the extent that the court believes and is equitable, having regard to your share in the responsibility for the damage. However, the law also expects you to take reasonable action to minimize the financial impact of the harm caused by the accident. 

Suppose you sit and rest on your proverbial laurels when it is not reasonable to do so (for instance, failing to get necessary medical treatment after the accident hence allowing the injuries to worsen). In that case, your damages claim amount might be significantly lowered. 

How To Get Maximum Compensation for Your Personal Injury Case 

Every personal injury case is unique, and the size of your damages award will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. Some factors might raise the value of your compensation amount, while others will significantly lower your compensation award. 

To find out how much your personal injury case is worth and to get the proper support needed to recover maximum compensation, it is important that you hire professional Canadian personal injury lawyers to represent you. At SG Injury Law, our Ottawa personal injury attorneys are vastly experienced in personal injury cases, and we are here to help you recover full and fair compensation. Contact us for more information.