ICBC Law

BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog

Erik MagrakenThis Blog is authored by British Columbia ICBC injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken. Erik is a partner with the British Columbia personal injury law-firm MacIsaac & Company. He restricts his practice exclusively to plaintiff-only personal injury claims with a particular emphasis on ICBC injury claims involving orthopaedic injuries and complex soft tissue injuries. Please visit often for the latest developments in matters concerning BC personal injury claims and ICBC claims

Erik Magraken does not work for and is not affiliated in any way with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Please note that this blog is for information only and is not claim-specific legal advice.  Erik can only provide legal advice to clients. Please click here to arrange a free consultation.

Posts Tagged ‘bc injury law’

$12,000 For Medical Cannabis Awarded to Crash Victim With Chronic Pain

December 4th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, awarding damages, including a $12,000 future care award for the cost of medical cannabis, to a collision victim.

In today’s case (Carrillo v. Deschutter) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2011 collison.  The Defendant admitted fault for the crash.  The Plaintiff suffered a variety of injuries including a frozen shoulder, soft tissue injuries and went on to develop chronic pain with a poor prognosis for full recovery.

At trial, in addition to other heads of damages, the Plaintiff sought damages for the future cost of medical cannabis.  The Defendant objected to this arguing that “conventional prescription drugs” should be adequate.  The court was not persuaded by this defence and awarded $12,000 for the cost of medical cannabis.  In reaching this conclusion Madam Justice Dardi provided the following reasons:

[158]     I have reviewed all the authorities on medical cannabis relied on by both parties. The authorities establish that, in some cases, medical cannabis is compensable in a personal injury case: Wright v. Mistry, 2017 BCSC 239 at para. 84; Amini v. Mondragon, 2014 BCSC 1590 at paras. 133-136; Chavez-Salinas v. Tower, 2017 BCSC 2068 at para. 539.

[159]     An important fact in this case, and one that distinguished this case from many of the cases relied on by the defence, is that Mr. Carrillo, after receiving Dr. Hershler’s recommendations, has been using cannabis balm, tincture oil and capsules. I accept his evidence, that he has found the cannabis products effective and, as a result of using the cannabis products, he has experienced some pain relief. There was no evidence that the consumption has produced any negative side effects. Notably, since the Accident, Mr. Carrillo has pursued the more traditional modalities of physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, massage and injections without any significant benefit. Mr. Carrillo’s prescription pain medication provides him with some symptomatic relief but I do not accept that it controls his pain as is asserted by the defendant.

[160]     With respect to the defence submissions on Mr. Carrillo’s mental health issues, I note that Mr. Carrillo’s medical condition is currently being monitored by his primary care provider, Dr. Sennewald. The six-month’s use of cocaine for pain was some six years ago and there is no evidence of any issue arising since that time.

[161]     All things considered, I conclude that the medical cannabis program recommended by Dr. Hershler is medically justified within the meaning contemplated by the authorities and that it is reasonable to make an award for the costs of the cannabis as part of Mr. Carrillo’s future pain management plan.

[162]     The evidence on the costs of the medical cannabis was thin but not so thin as to justify not making any award for Mr. Carrillo. There was no evidence as to what the cost would be through a Health Canada supplier. Those costs may be different from the costs Mr. Carrillo actually incurred purchasing them through other dispensaries. This is a significant shortcoming that I have taken into account in my assessment. I have also factored into my assessment that in his report Dr. Hershler did not say how long Mr. Carrillo should be on the medical cannabis program. It is uncertain how long he may continue using medical cannabis.

[163]     In the result, and on the totality of the evidence and taking into account the relevant contingencies, I assess an award for medical cannabis in the amount of $12,000.


$95,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Pain with Psychiatric Overlay

November 29th, 2018

Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic pain symptoms with psychiatric overlay caused by a series of collisions.

In today’s case (Sandhu v. Bates) the Plaintiff was injured in three collisions.  Fault was admitted by the Defendants.  The Plaintiff suffered injuries which developed into a myofascial pain syndrome.  She further developed somatic symptom disorders.  Her prognosis for full recovery was guarded.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $95,000 Madam Justice Winteringham provided the following reasons:

[137]     In summary, I make the following findings of fact respecting Mrs. Sandhu’s injuries:

a)    Mrs. Sandhu sustained moderate soft tissue injuries to her neck, lower back, buttock, right hip, right ankle, and right knee in the accidents.

b)    Rather than following a typical course of recovery after the accidents, Mrs. Sandhu experienced chronic low back pain affecting her buttock and pain down the right leg and associated numbness in the left buttock. Her chronic pain worsened in the first and second years following the accident and persisted at the time of trial.

c)     I accept Dr. Squire’s opinion that the diagnosis for her physical injuries is most consistent with myofascial pain syndrome of the lumbopelvic area and that the intermittent exacerbations are likely episodic acute muscle spasms and the right leg pain is likely referred pain from the myofascial pain syndrome. I also accept that she continues to experience intermittent neck pain.

d)    Dr. Joy, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Suhail all agree, and I find, that Mrs. Sandhu developed somatic symptom disorders. I note that though their diagnoses were not identical, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Suhail report that she meets the diagnostic criteria of somatic symptom disorder with predominant pain, following the accidents.  In addition, I accept Dr. Anderson’s opinion that following the accidents, Mrs. Sandhu suffers from a generalized anxiety disorder.

e)    I find that, as Mrs. Sandhu’s psychological condition deteriorated, her ability to cope with pain was poor. Dr. Suhail’s opinion, with which I agree, was that “as here pain would trigger her anxiety, her subsequent psychological problems would reduce her ability to cope with pain. Whenever she would be stressed and anxious, her back pain would increase.”

f)      Dr. Joy, Dr. Anderson, Dr. Suhail, Dr. Chapman and Dr. Kashif all agree that Mrs. Sandhu suffered from anxiety after the accidents. They disagree about prognosis. I find that the first accident, and aggravated in the second and third, caused Mrs. Sandhu’s generalized anxiety disorder. The medical experts are all of the opinion that Mrs. Sandhu’s prognosis is guarded, particularly if she is unable to address her anxiety disorder. Dr. Suhail indicated some recent improvement and, with ongoing cognitive behavioral treatment, there is some reason for cautious optimism.

[153]     I have reviewed the cases referred to by the parties. On my review of Mrs. Sandhu’s cases, as her counsel admits, the injuries suffered in some of those cases were more serious than what I have found in the present case. Similarly, I have found the cases relied on by the Defendants involved Plaintiffs with lesser injuries than those I have found in Mrs. Sandhu’s case.

[154]     In all of the circumstances, and taking into account the authorities I have been referred to, I am satisfied that an award of $95,000 will appropriately compensate Mrs. Sandhu for her pain and suffering and loss of past and future enjoyment of life, for which the Defendants are responsible.


Pedestrian Found 80% At Fault For Being Struck While Jaywalking

November 25th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Court of Appeal upholding a trial judge’s assessment of fault for a pedestrian/vehicle collision.

In the recent case (Vandendorpel v. Evoy) the Plaintiff was struck while crossing a street.  He was at a light controlled intersection.  He pressed the button to activate the pedestrian walk signal but did not wait for the signal to come on.  Instead, he proceeded to cross the street while the signal for traffic in his direction was still red.  The Defendant was driving marginally over the speed limit and entered the intersection on a fresh yellow light striking the jaywalking pedestrian.   At trial the plaintiff was found 80% at fault for the crash.  In upholding this result the BC Court of Appeal agreed with the following reasonsing of the trial judge:

[53]      While both parties failed in their respective duties of care, I find Mr. Evoy’s failure was much less significant than Mr. Vandendorpel’s. His negligence consisted of driving at a speed that was over the posted limit, even if it was only minimally above that limit (i.e., approximately 55 km/hr in a 50 km/hr zone) and doing so when the lighting and road conditions were less than optimal. Compared to this conduct, Mr. Vandendorpel’s failures were more serious. He was dressed in dark clothing, including a dark hooded pullover that was zipped up to the top. None of his clothing had any light reflective qualities. Counsel for Mr. Vandendorpel submits that wearing dark clothing is not in and of itself contributory negligence. That submission is correct, but Mr. Vandendorpel’s failures are greater than simply the clothing he was wearing. He was also wearing headphones and listening to music and that reduced his ability to hear any on-coming traffic. He also had to cross a five-lane roadway that spanned approximately 18 metres. Although he depressed the pedestrian control device, he only waited a second or so before he attempted to cross the roadway. He carelessly did so even though the pedestrian control signal was still red and the traffic control signals were still green. Mr. Evoy’s vehicle approached the Intersection from the north. That is the direction Mr. Vandendorpel was initially walking. The headlights of Mr. Evoy’s vehicle would have been visible from at least 100 metres away. Mr. Vandendorpel must not have looked north on Sooke Road as he began to cross the roadway because he did not see the headlights of Mr. Evoy’s vehicle until it was approximately 30 metres away from him. That is, until the vehicle was just about to enter the Intersection. At that point, the pedestrian control signal was still red and the traffic control signal was yellow. Notwithstanding all of this, Mr. Vandendorpel chose to run across the path of the on-coming car instead of standing fast or retreating.

[54]      I remain of the firm opinion that Mr. Vandendorpel showed a reckless disregard for his duties as a pedestrian on the roadway and conclude that his degree of fault for the accident is greater than that of Mr. Evoy.

[55]      The case authorities counsel provided me with respect to apportionment have been helpful. Each party’s degree of responsibility is to be decided by assessing the risk their respective conduct created, the effect of that risk, and the extent to which each party departed from the standard of reasonable care (see: MacDonald (Litigation guardian of) v. Goertz, 2008 BCSC 394, aff’d 2009 BCCA 358).

[56]      In my view, the risk Mr. Vandendorpel created when he chose to walk and then run across Sooke Road, into the path of Mr. Evoy’s on-coming vehicle created a much more significant risk than Mr. Evoy driving at a speed marginally above the speed limit on a dark morning with a wet roadway. Moreover, I find the departure from the standard of care expected of Mr. Vandendorpel as a pedestrian was much more pronounced than the departure of Mr. Evoy from his duty of care as a driver of a motor vehicle.


Jury Struck in Injury Claim With “Complex” Business Loss Element

November 22nd, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, striking a jury notice for a personal injury claim with a complex business loss component.

In today’s case (Forstved v. Kokabi) the Plaintiff was involved in a collision and sued for damages.  The Defendant elected to proceed to trial with a jury.  THe Plaintiff argued that the claim, particularly with its business loss component, was too complex for a jury.  The court agreed and struck the Defendant’s jury notice.  In doing so Master Dick provided the following reasons:

[50]         In this case, I agree with the plaintiff. The evidence in this case is sufficient to establish that this case will require a prolonged examination of documents or accounts and that the issues require a scientific or local investigation.

[51]         I must now look to whether the examination or investigation may conveniently be made with a jury. In considering this question, I acknowledge that a party’s right to trial by jury is entitled to great weight and ought not to be disturbed except in the clearest of cases.

[52]         In this case, I must consider if the jury can not only understand the evidence as it is presented and rebutted, but also retain it over 19 days and engage in a reasoned analysis at the end of the trial.

[53]         The plaintiff will be calling at least 23 witnesses, of whom 11 are experts. There will be lay witnesses, including the plaintiff’s accountant Mr. Moody. The accountant will be introducing many of the business and tax documents to support the plaintiff’s business arrangements. There will be at least 22 expert reports to be considered.

[54]         If I was just considering the number of experts, the expert’s use of terminology, the volume of medical evidence, and divergent opinions alone, that would not necessarily cause me to strike the jury in this case. What makes this case more difficult is the fact the plaintiff’s income and business losses are not straightforward. The jury will have to review and understand the plaintiff and his spouse’s income tax information as well as the financial statements from all of the corporations he owned. The jury will then have to analyze, understand, and interpret the documents to assess his income and business loss.

[55]         In this case, I accept that the issues of causation and quantification of damages will require prolonged examination of documents and scientific matters going to many issues over a protracted period. The difficulties for the trier of fact in dealing with this task was set out in Wallman v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2012 BCSC 1849 at para. 57:

. . . It may be necessary to retain fine detail from the examination in chief and cross-examination of many witnesses on multiple issues for weeks before those issues are traversed by defence witnesses. Considered on their own, most, but not all, of the expert reports in this case may be understood by a jury in light of the full examination in chief and cross-examination of the experts, but retention of that understanding over several weeks is likely to be so difficult, in my view, that fruitful analysis at the end of the day may be impossible.

[56]         I have considered all of the submissions made by counsel and the factors set out in paragraph 25 of these reasons. In this matter there is a significant dispute about the injuries sustained by the plaintiff and the impact on his life. After consideration of all of the above, I find that the jury will be significantly challenged over the 19 days of trial to retain, understand, and analyze the complex and conflicting evidence and reach factual and legal conclusions on the issues of causation and damages. As a result, I am satisfied that this matter cannot conveniently be heard by a jury.

[57]         I therefore will exercise my discretion to strike the jury notice and there will be an order that the trial of this case will be heard by judge alone.


$55,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic But Not Disabling Neck and Shoulder Injury

November 19th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic soft tissue injuries sustained in a collision.

In today’s case (Young v. Shao) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2013 rear-end collision.  The Defendant admitted fault.  The crash resulted in chronic but non-disabling soft tissue injuries with a poor prognosis for full recovery.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $55,000 Madam Justice Adair provided the following reasons:

[81]        Based on my findings above, Ms. Young will continue to have chronic pain symptoms, particularly in her neck and shoulder. As a result of the injuries she sustained, her ability to participate in her most favourite past-time – dancing – was curtailed altogether for several months. When Ms. Young’s injuries had sufficiently healed to allow her to resume dancing, she could not engage in the activity to the same extent as before the accident. Dancing has always been a very important part of Ms. Young’s lifestyle. The effects of her injuries have also made Ms. Young’s ability to work – something else that is important to her and gives meaning to her life – more difficult. Although she has never missed work, she has had to work with pain, and will have to do so indefinitely.

[82]        On the other hand, I had no evidence that, as a result of the injuries, there was any impairment in Ms. Young’s family or social relationships. Indeed, only Ms. Young testified about how her life was affected. I did not hear from any friends, family members or co-workers. This was a significant feature of at least two of the cases cited by Mr. Vondette, which is not present here.

[83]        In view of my findings above, and taking into account the factors mentioned in Stapley (including Ms. Young’s age and stage of life) and the cases cited to me in argument, I conclude that a fair and reasonable award of non-pecuniary damages is $55,000.


$100,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Disc Herniation With Poor Prognosis

November 9th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic and likely permanent back pain arising from a vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Domijan v. Jeon) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2012 collision the Defendant accepted fault for.  The crash caused an L4-5 intervertebral disc injury with central disc herniation.  The prognosis for recovery was poor and the Plaintiff was expected to have some degree of back pain for the rest of his life.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $100,000 Madam Justice MacDonald provided the following reasons:

[109]     I am not convinced that the plaintiff’s issue is simply pain relating to lumbar facet joint syndrome as put forward by Dr. Rickards. In fairness to Dr. Rickards, he stated this diagnosis in guarded terms using the word “possibly” numerous times. I prefer the testimony of Dr. Nikolakis and Dr. Appleby, that the plaintiff has a disc protrusion, specifically an L4-5 intervertebral disc injury with central disc herniation. This is based on the onset of pain being temporally related to the accident and the objective findings in the scans. As Dr. Nikolakis reported:

I was able to view the images from this diagnostic study [the March 3, 2014 MRI scan]… This investigation reveals desiccation of the L4-5 intervertebral disc along with a central disc herniation posteriorly and bulging of the intervertebral disc and anteriorly as well. There is a loss of disc height, which is significantly different relative to the healthy disc above and below this level….

[110]     I accept Dr. Nikolakis’ and Dr. Appleby’s evidence regarding diagnosis and am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Mr. Domijan’s pain is due to an L4-5 disc protrusion in his lower back, which was caused by the motor vehicle accident. It is more likely than not that the plaintiff will have ongoing, albeit partially resolved, back pain for the remainder of his life…

[128]     Here there was no evidence that the plaintiff suffered from psychiatric issues, such as depression, from the accident. He has demonstrated success post-accident despite the demanding physical labour of his work. He works through the pain, although he often suffers. He is certainly not completely disabled. It is clear that the plaintiff is not a complainer, he keeps his pain largely to himself, and overall presents as a stoic young man.

[129]     It would be improper to penalize Mr. Domijan for his stoicism, a factor that should not, generally speaking, be held against a plaintiff: Stapley at para. 46; Clark v. Kouba, 2014 BCCA 50; and Giang v. Clayton, 2005 BCCA 54 at para. 54.

[130]     I note that the plaintiff was a relatively young man at the time of the accident and now faces his adult life with chronic pain, although his pain has diminished since he changed his career to that of a railway conductor.

[131]     I do not give much weight to the defendant’s submissions that participation in sport typically decreases with age as career and family obligations increase, or that the plaintiff never intended to pursue soccer professionally, in my assessment of non-pecuniary damages. The evidence suggests that Mr. Domijan was an avid soccer player and would have continued to play regularly but for the accident.

[132]     In all the circumstances, I consider an appropriate award of non-pecuniary damages to be $100,000. This amount recognizes the plaintiff’s ongoing pain, loss of enjoyment of life, especially his inability to participate in sports, and the longevity of his claim.


BC Lawsuit For Alberta Car Crash Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction

November 5th, 2018

Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, dismissing a BC lawsuit on grounds that it had no jurisdiction over an Alberta based collision claim.

In today’s case (Brooks v. Leithoff) the Plaintiff was involved in a total of 5 collisions.  Four of the five occured in BC.  The third occured in Alberta.  The Plaintiff sued the Alberta motorist in BC alleging the crashes all gave rise to a single indivisible injury.

The Defendant sought to have the claim dismissed on the basis that there was no connection to BC to the crash.  The Court agreed with the Defendant and dismissed the lawsuit.  In doing so and finding the claim should have been filed in Alberta Madam Justice Power provided the following reasons:

[49]         When I consider the plaintiff’s arguments, I am not persuaded that the facts that the plaintiff points to are sufficient to displace what I view to be the clear weight of case law in British Columbia:  neither the plaintiff’s residency in British Columbia, nor the fact of indivisible injuries, nor the fact that the plaintiff is suffering ongoing damages in British Columbia, are, by themselves, sufficient to establish a clear and substantial connection to British Columbia.  When these three elements are combined, do these elements together then prove sufficient to ground jurisdiction?  I cannot conclude that they do.

[50]         During the course of argument, the plaintiff fairly conceded that some of the plaintiff’s arguments related to forums conveniens, which is not something I should take into account at this stage.  The plaintiff may have to mount two separate trials on substantially the same evidence as a result of this ruling, but again, that is not a factor I should take into when determining whether jurisdiction has been established.

[51]         During arguments, counsel for the plaintiff also suggested that if I did not accept that there was jurisdiction under s. 3(e) of the CJPTA, I could nevertheless exercise my residual discretion under s. 6 of the Act to find that this Court has jurisdiction.

[52]         In my view, this argument must fail because the exercise of discretion under s. 6 requires that either a) there is no court outside British Columbia in which the plaintiff can commence the proceeding, or b) that the commencement of the proceeding in a court outside British Columbia cannot reasonably be required.  The fact that the plaintiff has already commenced an action in Alberta leads me to conclude that it is open to the plaintiff to continue litigation of this matter in that jurisdiction.

[53]         During the arguments before me, counsel for the plaintiff also pointed to concerns relating to fairness, and the practical difficulties that Ms. Brooks would face in bringing two separate but essentially identical claims in two separate jurisdictions.  While I appreciate these practical difficulties, there are times when appeals to fairness in the law must yield to the demands for clarity and order in the law.  The words of Mr. Justice La Forest in Tolofson v. Jensen, [1994] 3 S.C.R. 1022 at 1058, although made in a somewhat different context, are nevertheless applicable here:

While, no doubt … the underlying principles of private international law are order and fairness, order comes first.  Order is a precondition to justice.

[54]         Overall, it is my view that the weight of the case law clearly establishes that the facts here are not sufficient to establish a real and substantial connection to British Columbia.

[55]         In the result, the defendant’s application to strike and dismiss the plaintiff’s claim for want of jurisdiction in British Columbia is granted.

 


$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Aggravation of Pre-Existing Somatic Symptom Disorder

November 1st, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for an aggravation of a pre-existing psychiatric condition from a vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Hrnic v. Bero Investments Ltd.) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2013 collison that the Defendants accepted fault for.  The crash caused both physical injury and an aggravation of a pre-existing somatic symptom disorder.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 Mr. Justice Saunders provided the following reasons:

[35]        I find the plaintiff suffered physical injuries in the accident. I am not persuaded that the purely physical injuries were significantly disabling in respect of the plaintiff’s activities of daily living, or her employment, for more than approximately 18 months following the accident. There is no reason to believe that there is a physical, i.e. orthopaedic or neurological, cause of Ms. Hrnic’s current symptoms.

[36]        However, I find that the plaintiff also suffered at the time of the accident from a pre-existing, but not disabling, psychiatric condition – somatic symptom disorder – that was aggravated by the accident, and which, superimposed on the actual physical injuries she did temporarily suffer, has become functionally disabling.

[37]        I do not find any real or substantial possibility that the pre-existing somatic symptom disorder would have become disabling, but for the subject accident. In that respect, the defendants “take the victim as they find her”, and there is no discounting of the defendants’ degree of liability on account of the plaintiff’s original position as regards the claims for loss of past and future earning capacity.

[38]        Given the longstanding nature of the plaintiff’s disorder, and given her resistance to recommended medical treatment, I find it likely that her disability will not substantially improve up to her previously planned retirement age of 65, and beyond. There is some possibility that Ms. Hrnic may undergo some spontaneous improvement, and some possibility that she may elect some form of medical treatment that will benefit her. But these are very modest possibilities, and are properly accounted for as contingencies through very modest reductions in damages…

[52]        I award the plaintiff non-pecuniary damages of $85,000.


BC Court of Appeal – “Segregated” Non-Pecuniary Awards Should be Avoided

October 1st, 2018

Several years ago it was more common to see BC courts awarding damages for ‘diminished housekeeping capacity‘ as a stand alone head of damage in injury litigation.  More recently the common practice is for courts to roll these in to the general damages awarded for non-pecuniary loss without a stand alone analysis.  Last week the BC Court of Appeal published reasons indicating the latter is the preferred practice.

In the recent case (Riley v. Ritsco) the Plaintiff was injured in a vehicle collision and sued for damages.  At trial non-pecuniary damages of $65,000 were assessed.  The Plaintiff successfully appealed and in doing so the BC Court of Appeal increased this head of damage to $85,000.  The Plaintiff also argued that the judge erred in not assessing damages for loss of housekeeping capacity as a stand alone head of damage.  In finding no error occured here the BC Court of Appeal provided the following guidance:

[101]     It is now well-established that where a plaintiff’s injuries lead to a requirement that they pay for housekeeping services, or where the services are routinely performed for them gratuitously by family members or friends, a pecuniary award is appropriate. Where the situation does not meet the requirements for a pecuniary award, a judge may take the incapacity into account in assessing the award for non‑pecuniary damages.

[102]     I acknowledge what was said in Kroeker about segregated non-pecuniary awards “where the special facts of a case” warrant them. In my view, however, segregated non-pecuniary awards should be avoided in the absence of special circumstances. There is no reason to slice up a general damages award into individual components addressed to particular aspects of a plaintiff’s lifestyle. While such an award might give an illusion of precision, or suggest that the court has been fastidious in searching out heads of damages, it serves no real purpose. An assessment of non-pecuniary damages involves a global assessment of the pain and suffering, loss of amenities, and loss of enjoyment of life suffered by a plaintiff. By its nature, it is a rough assessment and not a mathematical exercise.

[103]     The $85,000 figure that I have proposed for non-pecuniary loss takes into account all of the general damages the plaintiff has suffered and will suffer. It should not be augmented by a segregated award for loss of housekeeping capacity.


$110,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Pain Coupled With Psychological Injury

September 26th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic injuries following a vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Evans v. Keill) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2013 rear end collision that the Defendants admitted fault for.  The crash caused a variety of soft tissue injuries which developed into chronic pain coupled with psychological injury.  The consequences impacted her vocationally with a poor prognosis for recovery.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $110,000 Madam Justice Matthews provided the following reasons:

[166]     I have concluded that as a result of the accident, Ms. Evans has suffered pain and a loss of enjoyment of life, which will continue into the foreseeable future and from which she is unlikely to ever fully recover.

[167]     As a result of the injuries she sustained in the accident, Ms. Evans suffered from soft tissue injuries to her mid-back, upper back, neck and shoulder. She now has chronic pain in her neck and upper back. The pain is exacerbated by lifting and many different postures, including sitting, standing, certain neck angles and some yoga postures. It is exacerbated by physical activities where her neck or back bears weight, or involves lifting or working with her arms above a certain height. She experiences headaches and migraines. Over the course of two years after the accident the pain has gradually improved by about 60% but has plateaued at its present level. It is permanent and not likely to improve. She has been prescribed analgesics and has taken over-the-counter medications to cope with her pain.

[168]     Before the accident, Ms. Evans’ mood was good and she enjoyed being physically active and social. She hiked several times a week, sometimes with friends, and regularly did yoga. She had a career that she enjoyed and was justifiably proud of given her eligibility for further promotion and that she achieved it without graduating high school. Her injuries rendered her unable to do her job.

[169]     Due to the accident injuries, Ms. Evans suffered two major depressive episodes and somatic symptom disorder. She withdrew socially from her friends. She attempted suicide twice. She drank excessively.

[170]     Overall, Ms. Evans’ life is very different from what she enjoyed prior to the accident. However, after a significant and challenging struggle, she has reworked her life into a place where she is happy.

[171]     The most significant of the Stapley factors in this case are Ms. Evans’ age; the severity and duration of the pain; the impairment of her physical abilities; her associated loss of lifestyle; and the impairment of her relationships. Ms. Evans is relatively young. She was 34 years old at the time of the accident and she was 39 years old at trial. She faces the prospect of a lifetime of chronic pain and associated functional limitations. One of the most significant impacts of her injuries has been the impact on her ability to do her job as a produce manager, which she enjoyed and which was a source of pride…

[181]     In summary, some of the cases cited by Ms. Evans involve other injuries, such as thoracic outlet syndrome, disc herniation or facet joint arthroplasty, on top of chronic myofascial pain and psychological injuries. Most of the defendants’ cases do not include cases where a psychological condition has been diagnosed and/or the chronic pain is not as functionally disabling as that experienced by Ms. Evans. The cases which are most similar are Stapley and Montgomery.

[182]     Having considered the Stapley factors and all the above authorities, I assess non-pecuniary damages at $110,000.