Personal Injury Lawsuit Analytics: What Court Data Tells Us About Access to Justice in Canada

Bryan Saunders
Director of Growth, Marketing, & UI/UX

Personal Injury Lawsuit Analytics: What Court Data Tells Us About Access to Justice in Canada

At PainWorth, we think about ourselves in a number of different ways. We consider ourselves to be social missionaries, justice advocates, champions of process reform, technologists and, most of all, data enthusiasts.

The court data is quite interesting. For our study, we assessed Canadian court decisions from the period of January 2004 until December 2018.  

After adjusting each award for inflation into 2020 values, we found that the median value for pain and suffering awards in Canada was $77,100. Meaning that half of the pain and suffering judgments were for less than $77,100 and the other half were for more.

Average Pain and Suffering Payouts in Canada for Personal Injury Cases
Average personal injury lawsuit cases according to Canadian court judgments, 2004-2018. An almost perfect right-skew distribution with a median of $77,100.

Unfortunately, judgments in Canada take a long time to obtain for personal injury settlements.

In fact, most cases (99.97% according to public records around vehicle accidents vs court cases found) never see a courtroom. This means that the vast majority of personal injury claimants either: settle outside of court, abandon their claim, don’t make a claim, or have no rightful claim at all.

But for cases that do make it to a courtroom, we find that it takes an average of 5.2 years (median 5 years) from the date of the incident to receive a judgment, with the longest case in our dataset having taken 23 years!

Average Number of Years to Get a Payout for a Personal Injury Claim in Canada
Number of years it takes to resolve a personal injury lawsuit in a Canadian court, 2004-2018. Mean: 5.2 years; median: 5 years. Note that 87% of cases take 3-8 years to reach a settlement, and very few (less than 6%) are settled in under 3 years.

But the biggest surprise of all was when we analyzed the differences in injury awards between male and female claimants.

Our analysis showed that men received an average pain and suffering judgement award of $5,674.65 more and a median pain and suffering judgement award of $4,680.00 more than women when compared for similar injury types.

Average Pain and Suffering Payouts in Canada for Personal Injury Cases Men vs Women
Average Pain and Suffering Payouts in Canada for Personal Injury Lawsuits - Men vs Women, 2004-2018. Note that the curve for females is shifted to the left compared to the curve for males, illustrating how women are systemically are awarded $5674.65 less than men, on average, for similar injuries.

It is important to stress that this gender analysis was specific to pain and suffering judgments made and does not represent other types of injury claims or awards, such as loss of income or paramedical costs. Therefore, the conclusion is that there is a gender bias in the Canadian judicial system.

Bryan Saunders - July 4th, 2020

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