Nova Scotia Personal Injury Claims: How Much Is My “Pain and Suffering” Worth?

by John McKiggan

One of the challenges that I face as a Nova Scotia personal injury lawyer is explaining to people who have been seriously injured how much compensation they are entitled to receive.

Pain and Suffering

One of the heads of damages that the court will consider when awarding compensation is what lawyers refer to as “non-pecuniary damages”. Most people refer to this type of damages as “pain and suffering”.

How Do Courts Calculate “Pain and Suffering”?

There is no such thing as a “Pain-O-Meter”. An injured victim cannot be hooked up to a machine that prints out the financial value of their pain. What a judge does when determining compensation for pain and suffering is use his or her experience and discretion to consider how the injury has affected the victim’s ability to function and how the injury has effected the person’s enjoyment of life.

In other words, how have your injuries affected your normal day to day activates; your ability to work; and your normal amenities of life?

Financial Awards in Canada Different than the United States

Many of my clients have read news stories from the United States where injured victims have been awarded millions of dollars (sometimes tens of millions of dollars) for their “pain and suffering” from catastrophic injuries. Unfortunately, those types of damage awards cannot happen in Canada.

Supreme Court of Canada Caps Pain and Suffering Awards

The Supreme Court of Canada has placed a cap on the amount of compensation that injured victims are entitled to receive for non-pecuniary damages for pain and suffering.

In 1978, in a case known as Teno v. Arnold, the Supreme Court of Canada created a barrier to recovery for innocent victims who have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. In the Teno case, the Supreme Court ruled that no matter how seriously injured you are the maximum compensation that you can receive for your “pain and suffering” is $100,000.00.

Maximum Award for Pain and Suffering

Taking inflation into account, the cap on pain and suffering awards is currently considered to be slightly more than $300,000.00. But that maximum amount is only paid to the most catastrophically injured victims (quadriplegic, paraplegic, severe brain damage and similar injuries).

Even when plaintiff’s receive damage awards that seem large, they often never see the full amount decided by the judge or jury. Many awards are drastically reduced on appeal. These reduced or vacated judgments are seldom reported by the media.

If you are considering a claim for compensation for pain and suffering it is important to have an experienced Nova Scotia personal injury lawyer assisting you to ensure that you provide all of the relevant information that the courts will consider when assessing your non-pecuniary damages claim for pain and suffering.

I have been representing victims of serious personal injuries for 18 years. I wrote The Consumers Guide to Car Accident Claims in Nova Scotia and The Consumers Guide to Medical Malpractice Claims in Canada to help injured victims get fair compensation.

You can get a free copy of either the book by contacting me through this blog, visiting my website at or by calling me toll free at 1-877-423-2050.

One Response to “Nova Scotia Personal Injury Claims: How Much Is My “Pain and Suffering” Worth?”

April 13, 2009 at 2:08 pm, Ron Miller said:

Right. Even if there was a Pain-O-Meter, the money associated with it would vary by type of injury, jurisdiction, and Plaintiff.

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