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$140,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment for Collision Related Chronic Pain

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages of $140,000 for injuries leading to chronic pain following a vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Ferguson v. Watt) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2013 collision caused by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff suffered “injuries to her jaw, chest, thumbs and left knee, as well as soft tissue injuries“.  While many of the injuries recovered the Plaintiff continued “to suffer from chronic pain in her neck, upper back, right shoulder and left knee, and fluctuating levels of sleeplessness, depressed mood and frustration.“.

The Defendant unsuccessfully challenged the Plaintiff’s credibility at trial.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $140,000 Madam Justice Marzari provided the following reasons:

[196]     I find on all the evidence that Ms. Ferguson’s injuries have resulted in chronic, persistent, disabling pain which continues to impact her. The life she has ahead of her is not likely to be as enjoyable as a result of the accident and the injuries that continue to affect her – causing pain, discomfort, sleep disruption, loss of self esteem, limiting her recreational activities, causing her to take medication that may compromise her long term health, diverting time and energy to attend therapy, causing her to have less energy to engage in activities outside of work, and causing her stress and anxiety about her future. Most significantly, the accident has forced her to abandon the operating room. This has affected her identity as a capable and significant contributor to the direct care of patients, and has led her to question her own worth. While she still identifies as a nurse, and continues to wear her scrubs years after the accident even in her management roles, her sense of loss in this regard is acute and ongoing.

[197]     I would note in this case in particular that Ms. Ferguson’s stoicism and perseverance in working through her pain has undoubtedly reduced her financial losses. I do not find, however, that it suggests that she is any less in pain, or less emotionally affected by the loss. To the contrary, I find that she has worked harder to make up for any lag in her physical or mental abilities caused by the accident and her ongoing symptoms and medications.

[198]     In these circumstances, I find that her non-pecuniary losses are particularly significant and require compensation. I award $140,000 in non-pecuniary damages.

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