06 May What Do Non-Pecuniary Damages Compensate A Person For?

In the case of Mills v. Graham, 2019 BCSC 641, the Plaintiff slowed for a deer and was rear-ended by the Defendant, who in turn had been hit from behind by another driver who admitted liability for the accident.

The Plaintiff sustained injuries in the accident, including chronic neck, upper back and shoulder pain, and occasional headaches. The Judge accepted that the Plaintiff had never had this kind of neck and shoulder pain prior to the motor vehicle accident. The Judge then had to determine what non-pecuniary compensation the Plaintiff was entitled to for her injuries.

The purpose of non-pecuniary damages is to compensate a person for pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of amenities. This award does not solely depend upon the seriousness of the injury, but also upon its ability to ameliorate a person’s condition, having regard to her or his particular situation. Consequently, the gravity of the injury alone is not determinative.  An award of non-pecuniary damages must be fair and reasonable to both parties, and take into account the following factors:

  1. the person’s age;
  2. the nature of the injury;
  3. the severity and duration of pain;
  4. disability;
  5. emotional suffering;
  6. impairment of life;
  7. impairment of family, marital and social relationships;
  8. impairment of physical abilities;
  9. loss of lifestyle; and
  10. the person’s stoicism (a factor that should not, generally speaking, penalize the person).

Given the totality of the circumstances and taking into account prior case law, the Judge was satisfied that an award of $70,000 would appropriately compensate the Plaintiff.