Personal Injury lawyers work in a broad practice area encompassing all manner of physical and psychological injuries suffered in a wide range of circumstances, except for medical negligence (a separate Survey).
A practice may include some or all of such areas as road traffic and street accidents, occupiers’ liability, uninsured losses; spinal, brain and serious injury cases; fatal and dependency cases; public liability including all levels of government, school boards, etc. with respect to highways, public transportation, recreational facilities etc.; sports injuries; product liability cases; pharmaceutical and medical device product liability litigation; and catastrophic, multi-party litigation (air disasters, etc.).
Please note that several lawyers who practise Insurance law, or other related areas, are included here. We are aiming to capture the main classifications of this and related practices. The Lexpert directory has separate practice area pages for:
The law on torts is that general field of law which holds liable any person or persons who has caused damage to another, whether it be negligently or intentionally, and whether it be done against the person themself or their property. Its primary purpose is to maintain social order by:
Personal injury is a part of the law on torts that grants an injured party (the plaintiff in the civil case) a cause of action to file a civil case against another person (the defendant in the civil case) for damages that the injured party has suffered. Here, plaintiffs seek the help of personal injury lawyers to assist them with case buildup and secure compensation from the defendant.
In a civil case for personal injury, the plaintiff may either be a single person who has suffered the specific damage themself; an heir, guardian, or agent of the injured person; or a group of persons under a multi-party litigation or a class action/suit. Common law also provides that the injury is not limited to physical injury or injuries only, but also extends to mental or psychological suffering too. Personal injury lawyers consider these matters since a slight difference on these facts would result to a different set of evidence which needs to be presented and the arguments to be raised.
The following are some examples of damages that an injured party may recover:
A personal injury may be committed either (1) intentionally, or (2) negligently. These two are important considerations for the plaintiffs and the personal injury lawyers because each has specific elements different from the other.
Personal injuries that are inflicted intentionally or deliberately may arise from a crime, or from acts and omissions not specifically defined as a crime by the federal Criminal Code or any provincial or territorial criminal statute. Here, especially for civil liabilities for crimes, malice and bad faith must be established for the offender to be held liable for it. Also, in a criminal case, judgement for restitution may be imposed on the offender, which can be a substitute for damages in a civil case.
Negligent acts which cause personal injury may also give rise for a cause of action for damages. A person is negligent and is civilly liable when he/she has not exercised due diligence or the minimum standard of care during any act imputable to him/her.
Also, a person can be held negligent through his/her omission, such as inactions in cases when he/she is needed to act, or is compelled to, owing to his/her duty or position. Examples of negligent acts which causes personal injury would be driving under the influence or reckless driving, professional negligence, or product and manufacturing defects, among others.
Personal injury lawyers do not only work for the plaintiff (the injured party), but also for the defendant (the alleged person who caused the damage).
Before a court action is filed, personal injury lawyers may try to negotiate the case, whether for the plaintiff or for the defendant. When negotiations fail, this is the time when litigation may now ensue.
When working for the plaintiff, and prior to the filing of a case for damages, personal injury lawyers would have to determine whether the plaintiff has a strong claim against the defendant. This is done through an investigation of the facts according to the plaintiff, collection of admissible pieces of evidence to support such claim, and gathering of credible witnesses. Hence, the institution of the civil case must be done as early as possible to prevent any distortion and to prevent the defendant from claiming the defense of prescription.
As for the defendant, personal injury lawyers may establish defenses in order to minimize the award of damages such as contributory negligence, which claims that the plaintiff is also partly to blame for the injuries they have suffered. Other defenses available for the defendant to extinguish their liability are;
An injured party can sue for damages based on personal injury in Canada. How this case can be filed, and its other procedural rules, will depend on the province or territory that it is filed.
Canadian laws on personal injury, or the laws on torts in general, are based on common law or case law. However, there are other legislation from the provinces and territories that may also be the basis for a case for damages on personal injury. There is also the Criminal Code, both in the federal and provincial levels, which is a source of law on personal injury.
Plaintiffs and personal injury lawyers must establish the amount of damages that the injured party has suffered. Thus, there are two main types of damages which may apply in different scenarios – (1) the non-pecuniary or general damages, and (2) pecuniary damages.
Non-pecuniary or general damages are unquantifiable damages awarded to the plaintiff for the stress, inconvenience, pain and suffering, or the loss of enjoyment of life of the plaintiff. A classic example of this are psychological or mental damages. Currently, the amount that can be recovered for general damages has been capped at $100,000 by the Supreme Court through its past decision but has since increased to $300,000 due to inflation.
Pecuniary damages are quantifiable awards for the plaintiff after proving specific and economic losses due to the personal injury that occurred. Examples of pecuniary damages are treatment or medical costs, loss of income due to missed work, compensation for future wages, and costs of litigation.
Section 752 of the Criminal Code defined “serious personal injury offence” as either an (1) indictable offence involving attempted violence against a person, or a conduct which endangers the life or safety or causes psychological damage to another; or (2) consummated or attempted sexual assault. As such, these offences may be a cause of action for claims on damages due to personal injury.
Generally, a personal injury case must be filed within 2 years after the occurrence of the act or omission which caused the said personal injury, or when the signs of personal injury started to manifest.
In need of more information on personal injury either as a plaintiff or a defendant? Consult with the best personal injury lawyers in Canada as ranked by Lexpert by heading to the list below.