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What types of injuries can I sue for?

Personal injury lawsuits cover more than just physical injuries. You can also file lawsuits if you’ve contracted a sickness or disease or suffered psychological or emotional trauma.

You can sue another person or people for injuries resulting from a wide variety of incidents including:

  • automotive accidents
  • boating accidents
  • sexual abuse and assault
  • slips and falls
  • dog bites
  • wrongful death
  • false arrest
  • product liability

Whatever type of injury you’ve suffered, you can sue for several types of damages, including pain and suffering, loss of income (if your injury prevents you from working), and medical expenses.

You can also seek punitive damages, which are meant solely to punish the defendant for especially malicious conduct. Canadian courts are very conservative in their approach in awarding punitive damages. Whereas some defendants in the U.S. have received damages in the billion-dollar range, one of the larger punitive awards in Canadian history was $4.9 million, against a major insurance company. Suing another individual will usually yield far less.

A 1995 Supreme Court of Canada ruling (Hill v. Church of Scientology of Toronto) said punitive damages are merited when “the defendant’s misconduct is so malicious, oppressive and high-handed that it offends the court’s sense of decency” and should only be given when the damages already awarded are not a sufficiently severe deterrent and punishment.

If you’re injured in a car accident, your ability to seek damages may be limited by provincial law. Each province uses a no-fault insurance system and its respective laws restrict whether you can sue anyone or for how much.

Pain and suffering lawsuits are a growing area. While they typically used to be part of other lawsuits — mental anguish stemming from a terrible car accident, for example —  they are becoming increasingly common as standalone suits where no other injury was involved.

In one example, an Ontario man sued a bottled-water company after seeing a dead fly floating in a bottle. He claimed he suffered anxiety, nightmares, and stress, which cost him customers at his business. A trial judge awarded him $341,775 in damages, although that award was overturned on appeal.

In a controversial case still before the courts, an Ontario woman filed a lawsuit against the family of a teenage cyclist she struck and killed in her car, claiming he was riding in a negligent fashion and the ensuing accident caused her mental distress. 

Personal injury lawsuits can be very expensive and protracted experiences. Even if you win your suit, it can be difficult to obtain those damages and you may have to pay other fees to enforce the judgement. Consult legal help to evaluate your case and determine what types of damages you may be eligible for.