If you have sustained a personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to bring a personal injury claim for damages. While the amount of damages awarded to an injured party is often at the top of many plaintiffs’ minds, it is difficult to ascertain exactly how much a claim is worth until a party reaches their maximum recovery.

An injured party may claim damages under several heads of damages, such as pain and suffering, lost income, and housekeeping services. However, the amounts sought are not automatically awarded. Regardless of whether a claim settles before or after trial, several factors are considered when determining an appropriate damage award.

This article will provide an overview of some common factors and limitations that may impact and limit the compensation recovered. 

Minor Injuries Cap

In Alberta, if a plaintiff’s injury is classified as a “minor injury” under the provincial Minor Injury Regulation, there may be a limit on the amount of damages awarded for pain and suffering. Section 1(1) of the Minor Injury Regulation defines a minor injury as a sprain, strain, or WAD (whiplash-associated disorder) injury that does not result in a serious impairment. Therefore, serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, fractures, and spinal cord injuries generally fall outside of the minor injury cap. 

As of 2023, the Minor Injury Regulation places a cap on compensation available for pain and suffering at $5,817. However, this cap does not limit the amount of damages that may be awarded under other heads of damages in a plaintiff’s personal injury claim. 

Upper Limit on General Damages

In 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada set a general upper limit on damages that may be awarded for pain and suffering in a personal injury claim across the country. By setting this upper limit, the Supreme Court of Canada ensured that financial recovery would be limited to a reasonable amount and would not become substantially inflated. In the initial case, the Supreme Court of Canada imposed a ceiling of $100,000 for pain and suffering damages. However, as time goes on, this amount continues to adjust to reflect inflation and currently sits at approximately $415,000. 

Despite the limit on general damages for pain and suffering, there are several other heads of damages which a plaintiff may seek financial compensation under. 


The principle of causation requires considering whether your losses were caused as a result of the other party’s negligent conduct. The “but for” test must be satisfied to answer this question. This legal test asks: “but for” the other party’s negligent act or omission, would your injuries have occurred? 

It is important to remember that while this test may seem like it can be easily answered, additional factors must also be considered, such as whether you had pre-existing injuries or medical conditions which could have resulted in your post-accident injuries. Alternatively, suppose you had a pre-existing injury or condition made worse due to the defendant’s negligent conduct. In that case, they may still be liable for aggravating such injuries. However, having a pre-existing injury or condition is not determinative of whether or not the “but for” test has been met. The underlying principle of personal injury damages is to put you back into the position you would have been in had the accident not occurred; therefore, it is necessary to consider your circumstances before the accident and after. 

Contributory Negligence 

If you were injured due to a motor vehicle accident, your conduct may be considered when it comes time to assess damages. If it is found that you contributed to the accident or your injuries somehow, a reduction in damages may be assigned to account for contributory negligence. For example, if you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, as is required by law in Alberta under the Vehicle Equipment Regulation, a court or insurance company may determine that it is appropriate to reduce your damage awards by a particular percentage amount. 

Remoteness of Injuries

Remoteness is a principle of tort law which requires a court to consider whether the negligent party’s conduct was the proximate cause of the injuries you sustained. In a personal injury claim, a defendant’s liability is not limitless. While the other party should be liable for the immediate and directly resulting consequences of their negligence, if it is found that your injury was not reasonably foreseeable, compensation for such loss may be too remote, and damages may not be awarded. 

There is no test for a plaintiff to satisfy to prove that their injuries and loss were too remote from the accident; however, they must show that the types of injuries sustained would be a reasonably expected result of the defendant’s negligent conduct. An experienced personal injury lawyer can assess the circumstances of the accident and your injuries to determine whether remoteness may impact your claim. 

Mitigation by the Injured Party

The total amount of personal injury damages awarded may be reduced based on what you did or did not do after the accident to manage your damages reasonably. Therefore, it is important to seek the advice and treatment of medical professionals, engage in rehabilitation programs and take any other reasonable steps to encourage recovery. 

You are only required to take reasonable steps to work towards mitigating your damages and supporting your injury recovery. However, if you fail to take steps or participate in treatment, a court may decide not to award full damages. Working with a personal injury lawyer can help ensure that you participate in appropriate treatment and are followed by a comprehensive medical team throughout your recovery.  

Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP in Calgary for Comprehensive Advice and Trusted Representation in Personal Injury Claims

At Cuming & Gillespie LLP, our experienced personal injury lawyers regularly help clients who have sustained a personal injury due to someone else’s negligent act or omission. Whether you were injured due to a motor vehicle accident, pedestrian collision or cycling accident, our lawyers can help you pursue a claim for compensation while you prioritize your recovery. We work to ensure that you recover the maximum compensation possible to help you focus on your health and move forward after the accident. To schedule a consultation with a member of our team regarding your personal injury claim, contact us online or call us at 403-571-0555.