Personal injury awards in Canada

While the U.S. is known for high personal injuries awards, some significant awards have also been made in Canada.
Canadian courts have seen judges or juries award high compensation in personal injury cases. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

This United States often comes to mind when people think about large court awards for personal injury claims, but Canada has seen its fair share as well.

Here is a look at recent Canadian cases where a judge or jury awarded high compensation.

Marcoccia v. Gill, Purba Furniture Ltd. and Ford Credit Canada Ltd.

Decision: Robert Marcoccia awarded $16.9 million by jury in 2009

Robert Marcoccia was 20 years old and had just finished Grade 12 in June 2000 when he and his Honda Civic collided with an oncoming furniture truck that was attempting to turn left at Rexdale and Humberwood boulevards in Toronto.

The driver of the furniture truck, Bhupinder Singh Gill, had entered the intersection while the light was amber, but began his left turn while it was red.

A jury in Ontario's Superior Court of Justice found the accident was 61 per cent Gill’s fault because he failed to ensure his left turn could be made safely.

The accident left Marcoccia with injuries to the frontal and temporal lobes of his brain.

The injury affected his behaviour, social functioning, emotional response, ability to initiate and plan and his ability to anticipate the consequences of his actions.

He was unable to manage his emotions, eliminating prospects of returning to work, and required 24-hour/seven-day-a-week supervision.

Along with Gill, Ford Credit Canada Ltd. — which had insured the leased furniture truck — and Gill's employer Purba Furniture, were found liable by a jury, and ordered to pay Marcoccia $16.9 million in damages.

The defendants appealed the jury's finding that Marcoccia was only 39 per cent responsible for the accident, but the appeal was dismissed.

Sandhu v. Wellington Place Apartments

Decision: Harvinder Sandhu awarded $14.2 million by a jury in 2008

Harvinder Sandhu was two years old on June 5, 1997, when he suffered a five-storey fall through a damaged window at the apartment of his aunt and uncle on Martin Grove Road in Toronto.

He landed on concrete pavement and suffered severe injuries, including multiple fractures and a permanent frontal lobe brain injury.

At trial, experts testifying for the Sandhus said that for the rest of his life, Harvinder was expected to function at the level of a 12-year-old child and would require 24-hour care.

Evidence that jurors heard in Ontario's Superior Court of Justice indicated the landlord had not fixed a broken screen in the bedroom window from which the toddler fell, despite being asked to do so for some time.

The jury found the landlord, Wellington Place Apartments, 90 per cent liable for the fall and subsequent injuries, while finding Harvinder’s parents 10 per cent liable. A jury awarded the Sandhus $14.2 million in damages.

In March 2008, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the jury award.

Gordon & Morrison v. Greig

Decision: Derek Gordon awarded $11.37 million and Ryan Morrison $12.33 million in 2008

Ryan Morrison and Derek Gordon were passengers in a pickup truck driven by Corey Greig near Bradford, Ont., in September 2003. The three young men were on their way to a cottage weekend, and Greig had been drinking.

While travelling at high speed, the pickup swerved to miss an oncoming car and Greig lost control on City of Kawartha Lakes Road No. 4 west of Little Britain.

The pickup left the road, rolled, and both Morrison and Gordon were thrown into the ditch.

Morrison sustained a spinal cord injury, which left him a paraplegic. Gordon sustained a catastrophic brain injury, which left him without bladder and bowel control, senses of smell, taste, hunger, temperature and sexual function.

In his judgment, Ontario Superior Court Judge Bruce Glass awarded damages to Gordon and Morrison of a combined $24 million for loss of past and future income, cost of attendant care and future care, housing costs, and general and special damages, minus a deduction for contributory negligence.

Morrison’s $12.3 million is the largest Canadian award for a spinal cord injury and Gordon’s award of more than $11.5 million is one of the largest Canadian awards for a brain-injured adult.

MacNeil v. Bryan

Decision: Katherine-Paige MacNeil awarded $18.4 million in October 2009

On Aug. 2, 2002, a serious motor vehicle crash occurred when a 1989 Tempo that was northbound went through a stop sign on a rural road in Adjala-Tosorontio Township, northwest of Toronto. The vehicle vaulted over part of the road, smashed into a ditch and came to rest in a field.

Katherine-Paige MacNeil, 15 at the time, was a passenger in the back seat of the car driven by 16-year-old Trevor Bryan and owned by Bryan’s grandmother, Delores DeKoning.

MacNeil was catastrophically injured, suffering a skull fracture, and was left with multiple, permanent brain injuries.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Peter Howden awarded the girl $18.4 million, which included compensation for a loss of future income and future care costs.