The maximum award for pain and suffering (also called non-pecuniary damages) was set by the Supreme Court of Canada in January of 1978 at $100,000. Taking inflation into account this comes out to around $350,000:
Keep in mind that this number is pegged to inflation and will increase as inflation increases. The idea behind non-pecuniary damages is to compensate a plaintiff for injury that cannot be calculated. Unlike a medical bill or vehicle repair, you do not get a bill for the stress and pain that an injury costs.
Generally, the maximum award is reserved for catastrophic injuries. This includes injuries such as severe brain injuries, loss of limbs, paralysis in the limbs, disfigurement, or loss of sight. However, cases of severe psychological injury can also lead to very high awards for non-pecuniary damages. Longstanding and severe depression can consume a person’s life. Injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident or the resulting disability can be the trigger for this depression. Depression, unlike more objective injuries, often goes untreated. As such, it is always important to discuss not only your physical injuries with your doctor but also any changes in mood.
It should also be kept in mind that although the non-pecuniary award is capped, other awards are not. There is no maximum award for loss of income or costs of care. These heads of damage will often far exceed an award for non-pecuniary damages in a catastrophic injury case. For example in the case of a sever injury a person may need to hire a full time care aid for the res of their life. The cost of this easily exceeds the maximum of $350,000 for non-pecuniary award.