What is the Average Settlement for a Soft Tissue Injury in Alberta?
Alberta law makes a distinction between soft tissue injuries and other sorts of injuries when determining the pain and suffering of a plaintiff in any personal injury case.
While these injuries sound like they’re very minor, this isn’t necessarily the case. Some soft tissue injuries can cause major impairments in the life of an accident victim.
Thus it is up to your lawyer to make the strongest case for you so that you can receive as much compensation for these injuries as possible. In Alberta pain and suffering, awards are capped, and pain and suffering awards have an especially low cap of $5920. The way that your injuries are assessed will thus have a major impact on the amount of money that you receive from your case.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is a soft tissue injury?
A soft tissue injury is a sprain, strain, ligament tear, tendon injury, or whiplash associated disorder (WAD). The soft tissue injury is a minor injury if it does not cause severe impairment as a direct result of your injury.
Proving that a soft tissue injury causes severe impairment and that the impairment is a direct result of the accident is not as straightforward as you might think. Your lawyer might have to fight hard to help you demonstrate that you have a true “severe impairment.” Your lawyer might also have to fight to show that your impairment is not the result of a preexisting condition.
Rest assured that the insurance company wants to keep your injuries classified as “minor” if at all possible since it can mean the difference between paying a paltry couple thousand dollars and paying over $100,000.
What happens if you have multiple injuries?
The Minor Injury Regulation states that if a claimant sustains more than one injury as a result of an accident, “each injury must be assessed separately to determine whether the injury is or is not a minor injury.”
This means if you have any injuries that are not considered minor injuries then your personal injury lawyer can generally get your case handled under the much higher general pain and suffering cap of $370,000 instead of the smaller minor injury pain and suffering cap of $5920.
What is a fair settlement for a soft tissue injury?
“Fair” is a tough concept to talk about when you’re talking about personal injury law. It’s less about what’s fair and more about what you’re entitled to under the law and what you can make a case for.
Ideally, your soft tissue injury settlement will cover:
- All medical bills associated with the injury, including special equipment or physical therapy services that you might require as a result of your injuries.
- All of your lost wages.
- Any additional costs directly associated with your accident.
- A pain and suffering amount commensurate with the impact the accident has had on your life.
Most of these issues are objective: a $20,000 medical bill is objectively a $20,000 medical bill. Pain and suffering are where settlements get fuzzy and negotiable, the part of the settlement where your lawyer’s argument and negotiation skills make all the difference.
How much are soft tissue injuries worth?
It all depends on whether your injuries fall under the cap or not. In part, this will be based on an examination under the Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols Regulation.
Thus your injuries are going to be worth more if you do several things after your accident.
First, you get medical attention right away, whether you’re in pain right now or not. Soft tissue injuries are notorious for causing a delayed response in the bodies of patients. Medical providers can often detect these injuries before you do.
Second, you must follow all of your medical provider’s instructions. If you don’t you’ll provide the insurance company with ammunition to prove that your injuries are not creating a “significant impairment in your life.” Keep in mind that some insurance companies can and do hire private investigators to follow accident victims around, and they will twist even innocent, routine, “gotta-get-it-done” activities into evidence against you.
Third, you should document the impact that the injury has on your day-to-day life so this journal may be consulted as evidence.
Keep in mind that your award may not run right up to the cap. Just because a pain and suffering award is capped at $5920 for a minor injury does not mean that’s what you get. It means that’s the most you’ll get. It could be $900 or $3000 or $5000.
The same is true for the general injury cap. The general injury cap maybe $370,000 but if your case isn’t strong enough and your lawyer isn’t tough enough you could end up walking away with just $7000 in pain and suffering damages. It pays to understand the system and to take every step you can take to make your casework for you.
Are all soft tissue injuries covered under the minor injury cap?
No. They are only covered under the minor injury cap if they don’t cause a major impairment.
Here’s an example. You tear a ligament and have to walk with a cane and rest your leg for six weeks. This would probably be considered a minor injury. When you reach maximum medical improvement you’ll probably be walking normally again. If you worked at an office job then it didn’t impact your ability to work very much. Perhaps you needed a housekeeper or to take Lyfts for a little while to get through your daily activities.
These injuries are likely to fall under the minor injury cap.
In contrast, perhaps you get whiplash during your accident. As a result, you end up having chronic headaches and fatigue that keep you from working. You end up having to contend with incontinence. It’s unclear when or if you’ll be able to return to work.
In this case, your lawyer could make a strong case that this injury does not fall under the minor injury cap. That this is, in fact, a major injury, even though it is technically a soft tissue injury.
Slip and fall accidents are the major reasons for soft tissues injury. But it is not also uncommon to get your tissue injured by a car accident.
What is a reasonable payout for pain and suffering?
In all practicality, a “reasonable payout” is whatever your lawyer can successfully make a case for. The litigation and negotiation skills of your lawyer will make all the difference in the world.
Pain and suffering awards are subjective and two different lawyers can take the exact same case facts and come up with two entirely different amounts. Skilled lawyers are also aware of what courts are likely to award and use that as a basepoint for successful negotiations, and is likely to share that range with you as they guide you in deciding whether you should accept a settlement or not.
How long do soft tissue injury settlements take?
Most personal injury cases take 12 to 18 months to complete, and soft tissue injury settlements are rarely any different. The only exceptions are in cases where neither side truly disagrees with the facts of the case and where it simply comes down to deciding on an amount.
Why do you need professional litigation help?
When you work with one of our lawyers you’re getting a lawyer with 20 to 30 years of experience in the business. We’ve helped many Calgary accident victims make strong cases for maximum compensation in their cases, regardless of the types of injuries they suffered in their accidents. A personal injury lawyer also ensures that your documents are ready before the trial. They also help to handle tax documents regarding the settlement.
We come to every case prepared and as a result, are known as some of Calgary’s toughest negotiators and litigators. When you work with one of our lawyers you put insurance companies on notice that you mean business. Call us at any time after your accident; you don’t have to wait!
Call (403) 219-0184 to claim your risk-free consultation today.