Largest personal injury settlement amounts in Canadian history

Know more about the largest personal injury settlement amounts in Canada and how damages are computed by the court or the jury
Largest personal injury settlement amounts in Canadian history

Common law – also called case law or precedents – is one of the main sources of law in Canada. Pronouncements in previous personal injury cases bear great weight on how the court decides on present and future cases. 

What are the largest personal injury settlement amounts in Canadian history?

Canada’s common law helps in how the courts and the jury arrive at the final personal injury settlement amounts.

It guides not only the plaintiffs in a personal injury case on how to compute the settlement amounts they may claim, but also the defendants on how liability may be assigned to them.

MacNeil v. Bryan et al., [2009] O.J. No. 2344 – C$18.4 million

The case of MacNeil v. Bryan et al tops the list of the largest personal injury settlement amounts in Canada.

In August 2009, the car driven by 16-year-old Trevor Bryan ran a stop sign. The vehicle became airborne and smashed front-first into a ditch.

Katherine-Paige MacNeil, who was then 15 years old, was in the passenger seat of Byran’s car. She was the only passenger who wore a seat belt.

The car accident caused MacNeil several injuries, including the loss of some frontal lobe brain mass and severe hemorrhaging in the brain. This ultimately left her with multiple permanent brain injuries, several lumbar spine fractures, and other orthopedic injuries.

Know the steps on what to do after a car accident and see how a lawyer can help with any action you need to take.

As a result of the trial, the Ontario Superior Court accepted MacNeil as unemployable in any job and in need of round-the-clock supervisory care. This justified the award of damages in the amount of C$18.4 million, which includes the payment of a rehabilitation support worker, costs of future care, and management fees.

Marcoccia v. Gill et al., 2009 ONCA 317 – C$16.9 million

Marcoccia v. Gill et al is also one of the largest personal injury settlement amounts in Canada. In this case, the jury in Ontario's Superior Court of Justice awarded Robert Marcoccia a total amount of C$16.9 million for damages.

In 2007, the 20-year-old Marcoccia was driving his car when it collided with a furniture truck driven by Bhupinder Singh Gill.

Gill was attempting to turn left but had only entered the intersection while the light was amber. When the light turned red, Gill began his left turn which caused his collision with Marcoccia.

Due to this accident, Marcoccia suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, including injuries to the frontal and temporal lobes of his brain. These caused him behavioral disabilities. Marcoccia also suffered hemiparesis, causing weakness of the entire left side of his body.

The jury in this case accepted Marcoccia as a person who needs care 24/7 and unemployable because of his behavioral disabilities. Thus, Gill – along with his employer and the insurer of the furniture truck – was declared liable and ordered to pay Marcoccia.

Sandhu v. Wellington Place Apartments et al., 2008 ONCA 215 – C$14.2 million

Another Ontario case which was awarded a large personal injury settlement amount was Sandhu v. Wellington Place Apartments et al.

In 1997, 2-year-old Harvinder Sandhu fell on a concrete pavement from the five-storey apartment of his aunt and uncle due to a broken screen in the bedroom window. Sandhu suffered severe injuries, including multiple fractures and a permanent frontal lobe brain injury.

This accident was then blamed on the negligence of the apartment’s landlord, who was already previously asked to repair the broken screen.

While the jury in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice found contributory negligence on the part of Sandhu’s parents, they declared the landlord to be mainly liable for the toddler’s fall. The jury awarded Sandhu with C$14.2 million in damages, which includes C$400,000 for Sandhu’s guardianship fees covering legal fees.

What is the average personal injury settlement amount in Canada?

While it is hard to get an accurate average personal injury settlement amount in Canada, the law provides for certain factors that you can consider in computing the estimated damages for your case.

Personal injury settlement amounts in Canada may be divided into two categories of compensatory damages: pain and suffering damages and actual damages.

These damages must be proven by documentary evidence in making your claim. Thus, it is important to consult with your personal injury lawyer on the specific documents to prepare. This may include hospital records and bills or receipts of your actual expenses.

1. Pain and suffering damages

Pain and suffering damages are also called “general damages” or “non-pecuniary damages”. These damages are the non-monetary aspect of loss and injury such as psychological stress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, or loss of recreation.

Watch this video to know more about how general damages are computed:

You may also consult with a lawyer in your province. If you’re in Vancouver, for example, consult with the best personal injury lawyers in British Columbia as ranked by Lexpert.

Limit of general damages

The amount of general damages that you may recover is capped by common law.

In what has become known as the Damages Trilogy of Andrews v. Grand & Toy Ltd, Arnold v. Teno, and Thorton v. Prince George School District No. 57, the Supreme Court of Canada limited the amount of general damages to C$100,000 at that time.

Since this amount is relative to inflation, this has since grown to approximately C$450,000 as of 2023.

2. Actual damages

Actual damages or “special damages” are out-of-pocket expenses you’ve incurred. Some examples:

  • past and future lost wages
  • past and future cost of medical bills, medicines, and rehabilitation
  • repair of damaged property (e.g., your car in an auto accident)
  • costs of home care and domestic services

Common law

Common law will also affect the personal injury settlement amount that may be awarded to you by the court, following the principle that similar cases must have similar judgments.

These previous precedents will guide the court in determining the damages that are appropriate in your case. Similarly, you may also use these case laws in arguing the specific amount of damages that you’re claiming from the other party.

When courts assess the amount of your personal injury settlement based on common law, it will consider:

  • how similar your injuries are to injuries in the previous case
  • how similar your pre-injury conditions are to that of the previous case
  • if the medical interventions you need (or will need) are like that of the previous case
  • if the gravity of the accident, act, or negligence which caused your injury is the same as the previous case

To know more about personal injury settlement amounts, or to get an estimate of how much can you claim, consult with the Lexpert-Ranked best personal injury lawyers in Canada.