November 28th, 2016
Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for post traumatic stress disorder as a result of a vehicle collision.
In today’s case, (Harmati v. Williams) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2011 rear end collision that the Defendant accepted fault for. She suffered PTSD and a generalized anxiety disorder following the crash and the Court accepted these conditions were caused by the collision. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $100,000 Madam Justice Choi provided the following reasons:
 Dr. O’Shaughnessy was steadfast in his opinion when he testified that Ms. Harmati’s PTSD was as a result of the accident. He wavered on cross examination that the generalized anxiety was a result of the accident. I accept Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s testimony and diagnosis and found him to be a forthright and helpful expert witness…
 On a balance of probabilities, I find that Ms. Harmati’s present disability, both physical and psychological, is a result of the accident. I accept Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s opinion that the PTSD was triggered by the accident, and I am satisfied that there is a substantial connection between the injuries Ms. Harmati suffered in this accident and her present symptoms sufficient to impose liability on the Defendants. Just as the Defendants are liable for any physical injuries caused to Ms. Harmati, they are too liable for any psychological injuries that arose from this accident.
 I find that but for the accident, Ms. Harmati would not have suffered from pain in the neck, head and back or post-traumatic stress disorder. While Ms. Harmati may have had a more extreme reaction to the accident than most, she is better described as a “thin skull” than a crumbling one. The injuries she has suffered were not inherent in her original position and would not have occurred had the accident not happened…
 A few lay witnesses testified as to Ms. Harmati’s ongoing limitations.
 Mr. Gosling testified that Ms. Harmati is responsible for most of the cleaning, but that they don’t keep a clean house, and that Ms. Harmati is responsible for most of the cooking. She does more now than she did when they first cohabited because she is no longer working. I found Mr. Gosling a measured and careful witness, whose evidence I found credible.
 Mr. Gosling testified that Ms. Harmati does not want to be a burden, so she will insist on performing tasks that then require her to rest, such as carrying groceries and pots of boiling water.
 Mr. Derek Carswell worked with Ms. Harmati at Electronics Art. They were both hired on the same day in 2010 and became friends. Prior to the accident, he described her as “bubbly, enthusiastic and lots of energy”. After the energy, he testified that she was “subdued, lacking vital energy”. He said they played video games with their respective partners and that after the accident, she could not play video games for long because she needed to rest and due to nausea. Mr. Carswell testified that some video games are virtual reality games, involving wearing a headset and a screen which wraps around your face, and is an immersive gaming experience. Ms. Harmati has been unable to participate in this type of game since the accident…
 Having considered the evidence and cases, it is my view that an award of non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $100,000 is appropriate.