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$160,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Major Depressive and Somatic Symptom Disorders

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic psychological issues following a collision.

In today’s case (Cornish v. Khunkhun) the plaintiff was involved in an intersection collision in 2010.  Both the Plaintiff and Defendant were found equally to blame for the crash.  The Plaintiff suffered from a  major depressive disorder and somatic symptom disorder following the collision.  Her non-pecuniary damages were assessed at $160,000 and in reaching this figure, prior to factoring in the liability split,  Mr. Justice Skolrood provided the following reasons:

[131]     The evidence of Ms. Cornish’s condition was largely uncontradicted. I find that she suffers from a Major Depressive Disorder, as found by Dr. Riley, as well as a Somatic Symptom Disorder which results in her experiencing chronic pain. I also find that she experiences confusion and memory loss which Dr. Riley notes is consistent with her depressive disorder.

[132]     I also find that Ms. Cornish’s injuries have had a significant impact on her enjoyment of life. Her own evidence, and that of her supporting witnesses, paints a compelling before and after picture of a once vibrant woman who, as Ms. Fraser-Biscoe said, is now a different person…

[139]     The evidence is clear that Ms. Cornish had previously suffered from symptoms of depression and that she had a pre-existing back injury. With respect to the depression, I am satisfied on the evidence that it was in remission at the time of the accident and that her current psychological condition was caused by the accident.

[140]     In terms of her pain condition, prior to the accident Ms. Cornish’s back condition caused some limitations with respect to her physical capacity, particularly as it related to her work. She was only able to do light work. However, I accept that the accident aggravated her condition and is the cause of her current chronic pain or Somatic Symptom Disorder.

[141]     The cause of Ms. Cornish’s confusion and memory loss is less clear as there is no neurological evidence addressing these symptoms. However, I accept Dr.  Riley’s opinion that her condition is related to her depressive disorder which I have found was caused by the accident…

[146]     Given the ongoing nature of Ms. Cornish’s symptoms and their impact on her enjoyment of life, I find that a reasonable award of non-pecuniary damages is $160,000.00.

 

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