An injured person should be compensated for the loss they have suffered at the hands of another. Where they have died from their injuries, their family members and dependants should be compensated for their losses.
The law seeks to place the victim in the same position they were in before the injury occurred. The Supreme Court of Canada has stated that damages awards must be ‘fair’ and ‘moderate’ to both parties, and that there cannot be ‘perfect’ or ‘complete’ compensation.
Damages to compensate for lost income and for the cost of future health care expenses may be calculated with a reasonable degree of certainty. But what about damages for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life – how can money adequately compensate a person for years or decades of pain and suffering?
In 1978 the Supreme Court established an ‘upper limit’ of damages for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life in the amount of $100,000. Lower courts have adjusted that figure for inflation. Today, $100,000 when adjusted for inflation is approximately $330,000.
It is never easy trying to explain to a client who has suffered catastrophic injuries that $330,000 is the most that a court may award to compensate them for their pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. However, the system in Ontario is one of compromise. In most cases, the Ontario system allows an injured party to receive a modest amount for emotional losses along with substantial compensation for income loss, out of pocket expenses and future care costs.