May 29th, 2014
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for largely recovered soft tissue injuries with associated tinnitus.
In today’s case (Pichugin v. Stoian) the Plaintiff was involved in a modest rear end collision in 2010. Fault was admitted. The Plaintiff was uninjured at the scene but shortly thereafter started to experience neck and back pain. These symptoms largely recovered by 2012. In addition to the soft tissue injuries the Plaintiff suffered from tinnitus which was caused secondary to his whiplash injury. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $48,000 Mr. Justice Skolrood provided the following reasons:
 I find on the evidence that Mr. Pichugin suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck and back as a result of the accident. Those injuries caused him pain and discomfort for approximately one and a half years after the accident but he improved steadily and his symptoms were largely resolved by the fall of 2012. However, I accept that he continues to experience periodic pain and discomfort in his neck and back, of relatively minor severity, largely related to physical activity…
 I am satisfied that Mr. Pichugin’s tinnitus was caused by the accident. Dr. Longridge’s opinion to this effect is supported by the scientific literature as reflected in the Folmer and Greist paper. Even absent the findings in that paper, Dr. Longridge noted again that physicians have long recognized that whiplash can cause tinnitus. The defendant has not established any other likely, or even possible, cause that would serve to undermine Dr. Longridge’s opinion.
 In terms of the impact of his condition on his activities and lifestyle, Mr. Pichugin testified that he is less able to help his wife with things like vacuuming and grocery shopping. However, it was also clear from the evidence that overall Mr. Pichugin is more active than he was prior to the accident as he has increased his activity level following his heart attack.
 With respect to the tinnitus, he testified that while it sometimes causes him difficulty in getting to sleep, once he is asleep it does not interfere with the quality of his sleep. Moreover, he was unable to say with any degree of certainty how much sleep he loses as a result of the condition. Apart from some disruption while reading, there was no evidence that the condition otherwise interferes with his work or his recreational activities…
85] In my view, the severity and effects of Mr. Pichugin’s tinnitus are less than what was experienced by the plaintiff in Yang and more in line with the condition suffered by the plaintiff in Maddex. However, Mr. Pichugin’s soft tissue injuries were more severe than those of the plaintiff in Maddex. Taking all of the circumstances into account, I find that an appropriate award of non-pecuniary damages is $48,000.