Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Personal Injury Definition:

Injury to the natural body of a person.

Related Terms: Tort, Delict, Damages, Pain and Suffering, Non-pecuniary Damages, Special Damages

Personal injury may include an emotional injury (eg. shock or defamation) but not, generally, economic injuries (eg. patent infringement).

Some statutes may exclude personal injuries which are emotional only unless they flow from a physical injury.

In Moore, Justice Ritchie wrote of personal injury in the context of an insurance contract:

"... injuries of a substantial character, such as impair the body, or health, or as would be considered serious at the time, or which in their immediate effect might possibly jeopardize life, or tend, in their ulterior consequences, to affect longevity, or leave the person injured more open to the effect of subsequent disease, though not proceeding necessarily, immediately, or directly, from the wound or injury itself; in other words, leaving what might be considered a weak spot in the system, which might be productive, in the future, of consequences detrimental to longevity, either proceeding from the injury itself, or in connection with disease or injury to which the person may become subject from other causes...."

But this has long been rejected as far too conservative a definition. In The Laws of Australia:

"Personal injuries range from minor abrasions causing merely temporary pain and inconvenience to the permanent loss of eyesight or limbs or bodily function through injury to the spinal cord."

In Martin v ICBC, Justice Darling interpreted "damages in respect of injury to the person" as:

"... physical, emotional or mental injury to body or mind of the individual...."

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