What is the difference between economic and non-economic damages?

A: In personal injury cases, including motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) in Alberta, Canada, the compensation awarded to victims is generally divided into two main categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. These two types of damages serve different purposes and are meant to address various aspects of the harm suffered by the victim. It is essential to understand the difference between them when pursuing a personal injury claim with a law firm like Kantor LLP Personal Injury Lawyers.

Economic Damages

Economic damages, also known as pecuniary damages or special damages, are designed to compensate the victim for the financial losses they have incurred or will incur as a direct result of the accident. 

Economic damages are relatively easy to calculate and quantify because they are based on actual expenses or financial losses that can be documented. They may include:

  1. Medical expenses: These include costs related to emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, medication, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care related to the accident.

  2. Lost income: This compensation covers any lost wages or salary due to the victim's inability to work following the accident, as well as any future loss of earning capacity if the victim is unable to return to their pre-accident occupation or has a reduced capacity to work.

  3. Property damage: If the victim's personal property, such as their vehicle, has been damaged or destroyed in the accident, they may be compensated for the cost of repair or replacement.

  4. Out-of-pocket expenses: These damages cover any miscellaneous expenses incurred due to the accident, such as travel costs to medical appointments, hiring household help, or purchasing assistive devices.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages, also known as non-pecuniary damages or general damages, are meant to compensate the victim for the intangible, non-financial losses they have experienced as a result of the accident. Non-economic damages can be more challenging to calculate, as they often involve subjective assessments of the victim's pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. They may include:

  1. Pain and suffering: This compensation recognizes the physical pain, discomfort, and ongoing challenges the victim has faced and will continue to face due to their injuries.

  2. Emotional distress: This category addresses the emotional and psychological impact of the accident on the victim, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  3. Loss of enjoyment of life: These damages compensate the victim for the diminished quality of life resulting from the accident, including their inability to participate in hobbies, recreational activities, or social events they previously enjoyed.

  4. Loss of consortium: This compensation recognizes the impact of the accident on the victim's relationships with their spouse or partner, including any loss of companionship, affection, or sexual relations.

In Alberta, non-economic damages for pain and suffering are subject to a cap, which was established by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1978 and is adjusted for inflation. 

As of 2021, the cap is approximately CAD 391,000, but it may have changed since then. It is important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer, like those at Kantor LLP Personal Injury Lawyers, to ensure you receive the appropriate compensation for both economic and non-economic damages in your specific case.

If you've been in an MVA, contact Kantor LLP, MVA Injury Lawyers, for a free consultation.