Be Careful of Limitations

How Does a Personal Injury Case Work in Canada?

The laws in Canada are based on province rules, which is the area where the lawsuit is filed. There are surprising differences between USA and Canadian laws in this regard and very important limitations on the amount of damages which may be recovered. This why it is so important to engage competent legal counsel. For example, let’s examine the limitations for a personal injury lawsuit in Canada and specifically in Alberta.
Everyone sees the media reports of large settlements, sometimes in multi-million dollars in the USA. This is not the same as the results achieved in Canada. The legal system in Canada is very different from the legal system in the United States. The Canadian courts, even when there is a jury trial, are much more conservative than the courts in USA.
Canada’s Supreme Court has set the maximum amount for awards, due to damages for “pain and suffering”, at CAN$330,000. It is possible to exceed this maximum limitation in very special circumstances, which would include an estimation of future wages which are lost (especially if the person is a high-paid athlete, movie star, or popular musician), the future care expenses, and other special compensation. For example, when a successful brain surgeon loses the ability to work with his or her hands, special damages are awarded. Even so, with these special circumstances, the awards in Canada are much lower than awards for similar cases in the USA.

An Example of Alberta Limitations

In Alberta there is a CAN$4,500 maximum award for anything deemed as a “minor injury.” Minor injuries include such things as strains, sprains, and whip-lash from auto accidents. If the injuries are found to be this kind, by a qualified medical practitioners, who are called Certified Medical Examiners (CME); the maximum award limitation applies. There are additional awards allowed for injuries which significantly affect the ability to hold a job, attend school, or when fractures or extenuating circumstances are involved.
Any Canadian injury lawyer may represent cases in the entire country of Canada, when licensed to do so; however it is very important to learn how the local provincial rules apply to the case.