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$100,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for “Serious Facial Scars” Following Vehicle Collision

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for facial scars following a tragic motor vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Boparai v. Boparai Estate) the Plaintiff was involved in a serious collision when he was 8.  He was a passenger in a vehicle which crashed and killed his mother and twin brother.  The Plaintiff suffered relatively minor soft tissue injuries and serious facial scarring.  In addressing non-pecuniary damages for these physical injuries Mr. Justice Schultes provided the following reasons:

[71]         To summarize the physical injuries and their consequences, at a vulnerable age Mr. Boparai received several serious facial scars from this accident. He then had to endure numerous uncomfortable procedures to reduce their visibility, without complete success.

[72]         The scars have had a significant influence on his life to this point. Although I agree that Dr. Rai has been able to improve them markedly from their original state (and there was an additional surgery planned to try to improve them further), the reality is that some degree of visible scarring will be permanent.

[73]         As significant as the scars themselves were, the self-consciousness and embarrassment that they caused in Mr. Boparai as he was growing up were equally damaging, making his schooling and social development much more difficult. I accept that he has tried to avoid social interaction because of these feelings, which were directly caused by the physical injuries.

[74]         That said, and without minimizing the continuing visibility of some of Mr. Boparai’s scars or the way that they make him feel about himself, I should say that to an objective observer they are not shocking or disturbing, and a distinction should be drawn between his situation and that of very severely disfigured accident victims, whose every moment in public is a source of compassion or discomfort for observers.

[75]         The soft-tissue injuries that he suffered, mainly to his right leg, were much less serious than the scarring. While there is no reason to doubt his assertion that the leg injury kept him out of sports for several years and out of physical education class until Grade 10, I think it would be unsafe to conclude, in the absence of any evidence of ongoing treatment, that it was a source of major discomfort after the last visit to his doctor in relation to it in July 2003, about four years on from the accident…

84]         Taking into account the relevant aspects of the injuries that I have described, and receiving guidance from the cases without following them slavishly, I award Mr. Boparai $100,000 in non-pecuniary damages for his soft-tissue injuries and facial scarring.

 

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