Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Non-pecuniary Damages Definition:

Damages which are not readily quantified or valued in money, such as proposed compensation for pain and suffering.

Related Terms: Damages, General Damages, Pain and Suffering, Special Damages, Personal Injury

The Ontario Court of Appeal published this effort at explaining non-pecuniary damages in McIntyre v. Docherty:

"Pecuniary damages are generally assessed on the basis of calculable losses for items such as the plaintiff's prospective loss of earnings and profits and costs of future care, as well as other expenses.

"In contrast, non-pecuniary damages cannot be arithmetically calculated because they compensate the plaintiff for intangible losses arising from physical and psychological pain and suffering as well as from any loss of amenities or expectations of life. ...

"(T)he components of non- pecuniary damages necessarily overlap and merge at the edges and in practice, making it appropriate to arrive at a composite award for all non-pecuniary losses."

The most common form of non-pecuniary heading of alleged damages is pain and suffering.

In Stapley v. Hejslet, the British Columbia Court of Appeal published this helpful list:

"The in-exhaustive list of common factors ... that influence an award of non-pecuniary damages includes: (a) age of the plaintiff; (b) nature of the injury; (c) severity and duration of pain; (d) disability; (e) emotional suffering; and (f) loss or impairment of life.

"I would add the following factors, although they may arguably be subsumed in the above list: (g) impairment of family, marital and social relationships; (h) impairment of physical and mental abilities; (i) loss of lifestyle; and (j) the plaintiff's stoicism (as a factor that should not, generally speaking, penalize the plaintiff."

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