Money awarded for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life for injury to the human body appears to be worth less than being unjustly jailed says the Supreme Court of Canada (Hinse v. Canada (Attorney General, 2015 SCC 35 ).
The Supreme Court of Canada in the Andrews trilogy set an upper limit of $100,000 for non‑pecuniary losses ( compensation for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) resulting from a serious bodily injury. In wrongful conviction cases however the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that the limit does not apply to damages for non‑pecuniary loss that do not stem from bodily injury (relying on Cinar Corporation v. Robinson, 2013 SCC 73,  3 S.C.R. 1168, at para. 97). The Court even cited one case in which a wrongfully convicted claimant was paid $250,000 per year of incarceration and $100,000 per year while on parole.
The Supreme Court agreed with the $1.1 million payment for non-pecuniary damages but confirmed that an award of 3 million dollars for wrongful conviction was too much for this case:
In our opinion, therefore, an order that the AGC pay $1,900,000 after the AGQ had paid $1,100,000 under the same head of damages would be disproportionate. In a civil liability case, the court’s primary objective is to compensate the plaintiff for damage he or she has suffered, not to punish the debtor.
Having represented the severely injured as a personal injury lawyer, with the object being to compensate the claimant, I am unable to agree that a life of physical pain and suffering should be worth less than two years in prison or three years on parole. This assessment of pain and suffering by the highest court of the land highlights, by comparison to loss of freedom, the low priority our courts have put on compensating victims of personal injury and our need for a change in the common law .
Learn more about maximum and minimum awards for pain and suffering.
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