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Why do damage awards appear so much bigger in the United States than they are in Canada?

In the American news we see that accident victims get awarded ridiculously high awards for seemingly small accidents. Who can forget the story of the person who was awarded $1 million dollars because his coffee was too hot. Or how about the $20 million dollar awards for the elderly couple who scratched their arm after they fell off their bicycles?

Many of these stories, are just that, false stories. But, it cannot be denied that awards for accident victims in the United States are higher than awards in Ontario and Canada. The reason for this is because the highest court of Canada, which is called the Supreme Court ruled in a series of 3 cases that damages for pain and suffering be capped at around 3.25 million dollars. What that means is no matter how much pain and suffering you’ve been through after an accident, you damages for pain and suffering will be capped.

In addition, in Ontario insurance companies have lobbied the government to skew the laws in favour of insurers. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you need to show that your injuries are both “serious and permanent”. Serious means just that, the injury needs to be serious such that it effects your everyday life. And permanent means just that as well; your injuries need to last for the rest of your life. If your injuries really hurt for a few months, but then they go away completely afterwards, your injuries will not be permanent and you will not be able to sue for pain and suffering. This barrier to recovery is called the “threshold”. The threshold was established for the benefit of insurers to keep claims down. That way, the insurer would not have to pay out on every little claim made, because it would not meet the “threshold”. Also, insurance companies for have lobbied government such that the first $30,000 for each claim under $100,000 essentially vanishes in car accident claims. This is called the “deductible”. If your claim is over $100,000, the deductible does not apply. Both the threshold and the deductible work to reduce the amount of claims being made, and work to reduce the monetary damage award to accident victims.

The laws for car accidents, and personal injury claims are complicated and constantly changing. This is why you need an experienced lawyer to point you in the right direction and help you with your claim from start to finish. Brian Goldfinger of Goldfinger Injury Lawyers is a Canadian trained lawyer who only represents accident victims. Call Brian today for your free consultation. 416-730-1777
This article is not meant to be relied on as legal advice, nor does it create a solicitor client relationship.

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