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$130,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Pain With Related Heart Palpitations

It what is a fairly unusual symptom following motor vehicle related injuries, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic pain with associated heart palpitations.  In this week’s case (Morena v. Dhillon) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2008 collision.  The Defendant admitted fault.  The Plaintiff suffered a variety of injuries which remained symptomatic at the time of trial and were expected to linger into the future, the most unusual of which were heart palpitations.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $130,000 Madam Justice Arnold-Bailey provided the following reasons:

[117]     The evidence establishes that she was injured in the accident and as a result developed of the following injuries and conditions as listed by to Dr. Koo:

1.         Soft tissue injuries to the neck, shoulders, arms, lower back and legs with chronic residual sequelae of:

a)         Chronic whiplash injury with mechanical neck pain, myofascial origin, involving the right scalenes, trapezius, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and rhomboids, and left trapezius, levator scapula, rhomboids, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus muscles.

b)         Mechanical low back pain.

2.         Chronic sleep disruption.

3.         Posttraumatic stress disorder.

4.         Severe depression.

5.         Heart palpitations.

[130]     In the present case, prior to the accident, the plaintiff was a vital, energetic 43-year-old wife and mother of two. The extent of her injuries and the ensuing conditions is clearly set out above. She is likely to continue to suffer from pain, depression, PTSD, sleep disruption and potentially heart palpitations in to the future. Her depression is severe and seems to be entrenched. Her pain is severe at times and she requires constant pain medication. Her emotional suffering is great due to her great sadness and regret that she is not able to make the contributions to her family life that she did prior to the accident. Her relationships with family and friends have been negatively affected although her family remains intact. The best evidence is that she is fully disabled from work except for the one hour a day as a lunch supervisor she currently performs during the school year. She remains partially disabled from housework and other physical activities. Her enjoyment of all aspects of her life is significantly reduced. She is prevented by the injuries and their aftermath from living what otherwise was likely to have been a very happy, productive and fulfilling life. She has lost much.

[131]     Considering the range of awards in the authorities provided on behalf of the plaintiff, I find the decisions of Marois and Morlan to be of the most assistance. I award non-pecuniary damages in this case in the amount of $130,000.

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