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How Pain and Suffering Compensation Works in Calgary, AB

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Few people really understand the pain and suffering compensation. The million-dollar insurance industry has even worked to malign people who receive pain and suffering awards. Somehow people who get compensation for their suffering are “just whining” for “more money.”

In reality, nobody brings a personal injury case to court unless someone else has been negligent, and nobody receives a large pain and suffering award unless the results of that accident have had a clear, present, and profound impact on another person’s life. That is, someone either failed to do something they were supposed to do or did something they weren’t supposed to do, and the trajectory of someone else’s life was forever altered as a result. 

Your suffering matters. Someone has caused that suffering. You deserve some recompense for it. It’s as simple as that. 

Since pain and suffering compensation makes up such a large part of your settlement it’s important to understand how it works. Here’s what you need to know. 

What is compensation for pain and suffering?

Every personal injury settlement comes in two parts. The first is your general damages, which include property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses associated with your accident. This amount is straightforward and easy to calculate, as we’d simply use your bills, receipts, and paystubs to do so.

The other type of compensation is your pain and suffering award. This is a more subjective amount meant to compensate you for the fact that the accident has had a negative impact on your life, as outlined above. It is a somewhat negotiable amount, and it’s a somewhat subjective amount. The larger the impact of an injury on your life the more likely you’re going to get, but it also depends on where and how you were injured. 

Can you get pain and suffering from workers?

Workers’ compensation works differently. Employees get medical aid and wage replacement regardless of who caused the injury. In return, employees don’t seek personal injury suits against employers and do not receive pain and suffering awards.

What’s the average pain and suffering settlement? 

There’s really no such thing as an “average” settlement. Much depends on the facts of your case. 

Each pain and suffering case is also capped. If you have a soft tissue injury like whiplash or torn ligaments, and those are your only injuries, then the award is capped at $5,926. 

If you have other injuries that aren’t classified as “soft tissue” injuries then you can receive up to $370,000 for your injuries.

Obviously, there is a lot of room for negotiation and most people do not walk away with a full $370,000. There are other places where a good lawyer can maximize a truly grievous injury. For example, if you’ve lost the ability to work for good, then your lawyer may be able to get a “loss of earning capacity” amount added to your settlement. This would be separate from your pain and suffering award and would cover all the money it’s projected you might have made had you never gotten into the accident.

What is Additional Pain and Suffering Compensation? 

This is an amount unrelated to personal injury cases. It’s an award given to Canadian veterans who served in the armed forces and received a VAC disability benefit. It’s a government program that you can simply apply for online. Learn more about the program here.

How are pain and suffering determined?

First, pain and suffering are determined by looking at what sorts of injuries you sustained. This helps determine whether you’ll be covered by the general cap or whether you’ll be covered by the soft tissue injury cap.

Second, the courts look at the impact that the injury has had on your life.

As personal injury lawyers, we often suggest documenting those changes. For example, if you were in too much pain to get out of bed one day, then it’s a good idea to note this in a journal. You can then say, succinctly, “Last year I had 180 days wherein it was impossible to leave my bed due to these injuries.”

Other things we use are doctor’s notes and prescriptions, X-rays, and physician’s restrictions. 

The greater the impact on your life, the higher the award is likely to be. If you can no longer work, drive, pursue hobbies, walk, or play with your kids then you can expect a higher award. If you can work but need the assistance of a cane from now on the award might be a little lower.

There are no charts or hard and fast rules in Alberta. Ultimately the pain and suffering amount you’ll be awarded will depend entirely on the skill of your lawyer. 

Both your lawyer and the insurance company’s lawyer have a good idea of what courts are likely to award. They’ll likely try to negotiate their way near this range, with the insurance companies aiming for the lower end of the range and the lawyers aiming for the higher end of the range.

What can you do to improve your pain and suffering award?

There are things you, the plaintiff, can do to strengthen or weaken your own case in this regard. For example, getting medical attention directly after the accident and following every single one of your physician’s instructions can make a huge difference. This preserves the chain of causality by making it clear that your accident, and your accident alone, was the source of your injury, instead of giving the insurance company room to claim that the pain and suffering came from some additional source that they don’t bear any responsibility for. 

Another thing you can do is make sure that your day-to-day activities truly match your restrictions. Don’t haul a heavy box around if your doctor has told you not to do any heavy lifting. Insurance companies sometimes hire private investigators to get that sort of activity on camera so they can undermine your claim. Instead, go right ahead and hire someone to move the box for you. Save the receipt and recoup the money later. Those are the kinds of expenses covered by your general damages.

We’ve already mentioned documentation, but we really can’t stress it enough. You don’t want to leave the courts with nothing but your subjective record or memory. You want to be able to say, in concrete terms, what you can no longer do and how your life has been forever changed by these events. 

Finally, you can bring a personal injury lawyer onto your case early. You can do it the moment you are coherent enough to do so. Your lawyer will act as an intermediary between you and the insurance companies. This can help avoid situations where adjusters trick you into saying things that can harm your case, and can put those companies on notice that you mean business right away. This tends to lead to a much larger settlement in the end. 

Why trust us with your personal injury case? 

Most of the lawyers in our office have 20 to 30 years of experience handling personal injury cases for Alberta residents just like you. Our team has obtained generous pain and suffering settlements on our clients both because we are savvy negotiators and because we are absolutely fearless litigants. We fight for you, and we fight hard. 

We’re responsive and kind to clients though, and take the time to answer your questions, meet your concerns, and explain the process to you at every step of the way.

We’re also convenient for you! You don’t have to leave your bed if you don’t want to. We’ll meet with you via Zoom and start the process on your behalf. We can even deal with insurance companies for you! Call (403) 669-3393 to get started today.

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