Court Discusses Purpose For Awarding Non-Pecuniary Damages

When you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, and you are in no way to blame, you are entitled to “non-pecuniary” (non-financial) damages, which includes pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of amenities. As no two ICBC claims are identical in their facts and circumstances, awards for pain and suffering can vary.


The Court will look at many factors in an ICBC claim in deciding how much to award for pain and suffering.


In Parker v Lemmon, the Court, in quoting the Supreme Court of Canada in Lindal, noted the purpose in awarding non-pecuniary damages.


[27] In considering non-pecuniary damages in this case I am also cognizant of the Supreme Court of Canada’s summary of the purpose of non-pecuniary damages as set out in Lindal v. Lindal, [1981] 2 S.C.R. 629 at p. 637:


Thus the amount of an award for non-pecuniary damage should not depend alone upon the seriousness of the injury but upon its ability to ameliorate the condition of the victim considering his or her particular situation. It therefore will not follow that in considering what part of the maximum should be awarded the gravity of the injury alone will be determinative. An appreciation of the individual’s loss is the key and the “need for solace will not necessarily correlate with the seriousness of the injury” (Cooper-Stephenson and Saunders, Personal Injury Damages in Canada(1981), at p. 373). In dealing with an award of this nature it will be impossible to develop a “tariff”. An award will vary in each case “to meet the specific circumstances of the individual case” (Thornton at p. 284 of S.C.R.).


[28] Such awards will vary in each case to meet specific circumstances. A specific circumstance here is the plaintiff’s overall health condition. That said, I accept that her injuries have significantly impacted her enjoyment of life, including her work, family and social life…


[30] Perhaps not surprisingly, I find that a proper assessment of the plaintiff’s non-pecuniary loss falls between those referenced by the plaintiff and defendant.


[36] In Fata, the injuries were found to be such that they would not have prevented a return to full-time employment, although with discomfort. Some of the sequelae were resolved at the time of trial, although there was some lingering shoulder pain that would likely not resolve. The Court awarded $45,000 non-pecuniary damages. The factual circumstances are not in all respects similar to the case at bar, but in my view the award in Fata most appropriately approximates what is appropriate here. I note in that case the Court found that the plaintiff could have returned to work but chose not to. In this case the plaintiff did return to her former employment, which her specialist physician opined she could, but she ultimately chose to discontinue that employment and is considering retraining.

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