General Damages, Special Damages, and the Minor Injury Cap

In 2004, the Provincial Government passed legislation limiting damage awards for persons injured in motor vehicle accidents (“MVA”). When people refer to the “minor injury cap” or just “the cap”, or certain injuries being “capped”, this is what they are referencing. It is important to keep in mind that not all MVA injuries are subject to the cap. It is also important to note that the cap only limits compensation paid for “general damages” (more on this later). Out of pocket medical expenses and missed wages due to injury are not capped.

The Alberta Minor Injury Regulation sets cap limits and dictates what type of injuries are caught by the minor injury cap. So, the two critical questions are, what is the cap in 2021? And what injuries are caught by the cap?

What is the minor injury cap currently set at?

The minor injury cap is currently set at $ 5,365.

The cap was originally set at $ 4,000 in 2004 and increases annually to keep pace with inflation.

What injuries are caught by the cap?

Only “minor injuries” are caught by the minor injury cap. The Alberta Minor Injury Regulation defines minor injuries as, sprains, strains, or Whiplash Associated Disorder (“WAD”) injuries. Psychological injuries (anxiety, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder etc…) caused by, or associated with, minor injuries are also caught by the cap.

Keep in mind that a minor injury will not be subject to the cap if it causes “serious impairment” to a person’s employment, education, training, or normal activities of daily living.

Under the Alberta Minor Injury Regulations, serious impairment is made out only if the impairment has been ongoing since the MVA and it is expected not to improve substantially.

Whether an injury causes serious impairment must be informed by medical evidence. In certain cases, an expert report is required to prove that an injury caused serious impairment.     

Serious injuries are not capped. Broken bones and torn ligaments/muscles are considered serious injuries. This is not an exhaustive list of serious injuries.  

Head trauma and neurological injuries, such as a concussion, are not caught by the minor injury cap.

Know Your Rights With The Cap

MVA victims are entitled to claim compensation under two distinct “heads” of damages, only one of which is subject to the cap. General damages, which are subject to the cap, include things that do not have an objective dollar value, such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment. Special damages, which are not subject to the cap, are things that have an objective dollar value attached to them. Special damages include lost wages, medical care, loss of housekeeping capacity, and other out of pocket expenses.

It is a popular misconception that all whiplash-type injuries are capped. Insurance companies frequently tell MVA victims this very thing. They do this in the hopes of achieving a quick and inexpensive settlement. This leaves many seriously injured Albertans without adequate compensation. Whether or not your injury is capped is a complex determination dependant on many factors. If you are injured in MVA do not proceed alone. You may be entitled to more compensation than you think or are told. Please contact our team today for a free consultation.  

Have You or a Loved One Been Injured?

Based in Edmonton, James H. Brown and Associates are proud to stand up for your rights no matter where you are in Alberta. Book a free, no-obligation consultation today; our team will reach out in-person, by telephone, or online to help get you started on the path to justice.

Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with James H. Brown and Associates’ Alberta’s precedent-setting injury lawyers.


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