General damages are financial compensations for either reduced enjoyment of life or the inability to do the activities they could prior to the injury. There are generally four grounds upon which general damages can be claimed: pain and suffering; loss of amenity or enjoyment of life; loss of consortium or companionship; and loss of peace of mind.
General damages provide compensation for a number of consequences which flow from a wrongful injury. The typical list of factors that a court will consider assessing damages will include the following:
- Age of plaintiff;
- Nature of the injury;
- Severity and duration of the injury;
- Emotional suffering;
- Loss or impairment of life;
- Impairment of family, marital and social relationships;
- Impairment of physical and mental abilities.
To ensure that the sums awarded for the same or similar injuries are consistent, the courts will look to previous cases. There is a maximum amount that the court will award for this type of compensation. This cap was determined by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1978 when it decided an injured Canadian could not recover more than $100 000 in compensation for general damages. This number grows each year with inflation and now stands at approximately $400 000.