BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog

$35,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For 3 Year Whiplash Injury

Keeping this site’s whiplash database current, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for a soft tissue injury claim as a result of a motor vehicle collision.

In last week’s case (Carter v. Zhan) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 collision. ¬†Fault was admitted. ¬†The Plaintiff was injured in the crash and alleged the consequences were permanent. ¬†She sought damages between $149,000-$206,000 at trial. ¬†Despite rejecting the severity of the Plaintiff’s claims, Mr. Justice Verhoeven accepted the Plaintiff did suffer a whiplash injury of 36 months duration. ¬†In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $35,000 the Court provided the following reasons:

[99] On the evidence, I accept that the plaintiff has established to the requisite standard of proof in a civil case that the accident resulted in soft tissue injuries which persisted for approximately 36 months after the accident, gradually lessening over that recovery period.¬† Thereafter, I conclude that she suffered from only minor lingering effects.¬† It follows that I am not satisfied that the plaintiff has established that her injuries are essentially permanent as she claims…

[122] In determining an appropriate non-pecuniary award to compensate the plaintiff for her losses, I set out my findings in relation to the relevant Stapley factors:

1. the plaintiff was 32 years old at the time of the accident(she is now 37);

2. she suffered mild to moderate soft tissue injuries to her neck, jaw, shoulders, back, and pelvic girdle;

3. these injuries caused her mild to moderate pain and discomfort in her neck, jaw, shoulders, back, and pelvic girdle, primarily on the left side of her body, for approximately three years and minor lingering effects thereafter, with the pain lessening gradually over those three years.  She also occasionally suffered minor chest stiffness and soreness and headaches;

4. the plaintiff’s injuries are not permanent and she is not disabled as a result of the accident;

5. the injuries caused the plaintiff some emotional pain and loss of enjoyment of life over the three-year recovery period;

6. the plaintiff was also somewhat restricted in her physical activities over that time; and

7. the plaintiff did not suffer a loss of lifestyle as a result of her injuries.

[123] Bearing in mind these factors, I find the following cases provide some assistance in determining the appropriate range for non-pecuniary damages: Cameron v. Savory, 2008 BCSC 1708, [2008] B.C.J. No. 2429 [Cameron]; Dhanoa (Litigation guardian of) v. Hui, 2008 BCSC 907, [2008] B.C.J. No. 1307 [Dhanoa]; Mullican v. Steuart, 2003 BCSC 289, [2003] B.C.J. No. 416 [Mullican]; Lane v. Ford Credit Canada Leasing Limited et al., 2003 BCSC 701, [2003] B.C.J. No. 1042 [Lane]; Gray v. Balsdon, [1996] B.C.J. No. 667 (S.C.) [Gray]; and Johnston v. Day, 2002 BCSC 480, [2002] B.C.J. No. 920 [Johnston].

[124] Considering all the circumstances, and the principles enunciated in Stapley, I assess Ms. Carter’s non-pecuniary loss at $35,000.

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