The law acknowledges that pain and suffering are experiences people should not be put through, and that they have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life. Thus, having to face them is a kind of damage.
In Canada, there is a $364,000 cap on pain and suffering awards. Whether you consider this amount to be fair or not, the awards that you receive will never exceed that amount. The maximums are usually paid in catastrophic personal injury cases. A catastrophic case results in truly life-changing injuries, like paraplegia or major brain damage.
It’s difficult to say what non-economic damages like these will look like in your specific case. In Canada this award amount is usually about $15,000, on average. It is added to your other award amounts, including awards for economic damages like your medical bills and disability awards like the ones that replace your lost income.
That’s obviously a pretty broad range.
When a lawyer is trying to come up with a settlement offer they’ll consider things like your pre-accident lifestyle and health vs. your current lifestyle and health. The nature of your injuries will matter, as will your recovery times and progress.
Your lawyer may ask you to help gather some evidence as proof of your pain and suffering. This proof can include:
- Medical bills
- Photos of the untreated injury
- Photos of any surgeries in progress
- Records from a pain specialist if you’re experiencing chronic pain
You may also be asked to describe the injury’s impact on your day-to-day life. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t say you’re having trouble lifting heavy objects if you’re out on your back porch moving heavy flower pots around. Insurance companies can and do hire private detectives to catch people who are exaggerating their pain and suffering claims.
One thing that can be extremely helpful in maximizing your award is to work with a lawyer who has worked with local insurance adjusters before.
The more cases your lawyer has settled or worked on the better an idea they are likely to have of where to set certain offers to get the best results. Your lawyer will also have a better idea of where certain adjusters are likely to begin negotiations, which can earn them an edge.
If the case goes to court, knowing how local judges think can provide a similar edge.
Pain and suffering asks are put under a lot of scrutiny because there are always bad actors who are willing to exaggerate. Work with a lawyer who knows they don’t need to inflate claims to get the win, and be as honest as possible with your lawyer about what’s really happening.
When you do that, you get your best chance of getting the highest pain and suffering award that may be available in your type of case.