If you have been injured in an accident, there is some cost to you. Maybe those costs are financial, such as the cost of medical treatment or lost wages. Maybe they are more vague, such as pain and suffering. But it is natural to think about getting compensation for your injuries.
On television and in the movies, personal injury claims are often depicted as court awards or settlements for huge amounts of money, usually in the millions of dollars.
That is not the reality in Prince Edward Island personal injury cases, or elsewhere in Canada.
If you have been involved in an accident where you think someone else is at fault, contact a lawyer. They can help you understand the process and what you may be entitled to. But you should be realistic in what you can expect.
In Prince Edward Island, most personal injury awards tend to be “compensatory”. In other words, they are meant to compensate someone for what has been lost. The huge awards depicted often on television are “punitive” – meant to punish someone. Large punitive damages do not usually happen in Canada.
Before even being awarded damages, a finding of fault has to be made. That means that someone has to have either neglected something they should have done, or done something that they shouldn’t have done, and that played a part in your injury. Once that has been established, either by the courts or by mutual agreement, then there is the potential for damages to be awarded.
But again, in Canada in general, and Prince Edward Island in particular, damages are compensatory. So they are related to the actual costs you incur as a result of the accident. The actual amount will depend on items such as
- Actual medical costs that you incur for treatment of your injuries. These are usually some of the easier items to calculate, as they will be directly related to actual out-of-pocket costs. The damages can also include anticipated costs in the future.
- Pain and suffering damages are common, but are a bit harder to calculate. There are a lot of guidelines that are applied in Canadian cases, but there are also caps that are applied. Sometimes these can be substantial settlements, but again, they are meant to compensate you as the injured party, not to punish someone else.
- Lost income can be part of the damages, if the injury has affected your ability to generate an income.
- Other direct costs such as property loss, or even financial costs of family members directly related to the accident and your injury can be considered.
Finally, the amount of damages can be changed if you are partially at fault, whether through your action or inaction. For instance, if you were injured in a car accident, and you were not wearing a seat belt and that played a part in your injuries, that is an action you have not taken that contributed to the injuries. This will impact the damages that are awarded.
But if you have been injured in an accident, it is a good idea to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. As in all legal areas, getting expert advice from someone that knows the legal system and your rights in detail is essential. Sometimes accident symptoms may not appear for some time, and in many personal injury cases there are time limits to file claims, so it is important that you not wait to find out your rights.