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$125,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Cough

In what can be described as a fairly unique injury, reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Chilliwack Registry, assessing damages for a chronic cough caused by a motor vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Reilander v. Campbell) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 rear-end collision.  The Plaintiff developed a chronic cough following the crash.  The Plaintiff alleged this was caused by a C5/6 disc herniation which interfered with her oesophagus resulting in the chronic cough.

The Plaintiff went on to have surgery to address her disc injury which somewhat improved her chronic cough.  Mr. Justice Leask found that the cough was indeed related to the collision and assessed non-pecuniary damages at $125,000.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[26] Dr. Matishak’s opinion was that Ms. Reilander:

… suffered the onset of neck pain, persistent and unremitting cough, and left arm pain and weakness following the motor vehicle accident of July 29th, 2006. Radiological investigation revealed a central C5/6 disc herniation. Therefore, I would opine that the C5/6 disc herniation is a direct result of the motor vehicle accident of July 29th, 2006…

[32] Taking into account the facts that I have found based on the evidence given by the Reilander family and the expert opinions of both Dr. Matishak and Dr. Gittens, I am satisfied that the plaintiff has demonstrated on a balance of probabilities that the motor vehicle accident of July 29, 2006 caused a disc herniation at C5/6 on her cervical spine and that disc herniation was the principal cause of her persistent and debilitating cough…

[36] Considering the effect on the plaintiff’s personal life, child-rearing responsibilities, marital relationship and her ability to participate in the exercise of her religion, I am satisfied that the plaintiff’s submission is appropriate. I award the plaintiff $125,000 for non-pecuniary damages.

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