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$100,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment For Chronic Pain Syndrome

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, discussing causation and quantum of damages for chronic pain syndrome.
In this week’s case (Mohan v. Khan) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2007 collision in Vancouver, BC.  Although ICBC denied the issue of fault the Defendant was ultimately found fully liable for the crash.  The Plaintiff suffered various soft tissue injuries and went to suffer from a chronic pain disorder.  Despite some concerns about the Plaintiff’s ‘exaggeration‘ and a further finding that the Plaintiff failed to mitigate her damages the Court assessed non-pecuniary damages at $100,000.  In doing so Mr. Justice Bowden provided the following reasons:

[158] This case went to trial approximately 4½ years after the motor vehicle accident in which the plaintiff was injured. There is no question that the plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries from the accident. Had those injuries taken three or four months to resolve, this litigation would most likely not have taken place. What has led to this court case and a substantial claim for damages is that the plaintiff asserts that she suffers from what is described as chronic pain disorder long after her physical injuries from the accident have resolved.

[159] Based on the evidence of the medical experts it is apparent that chronic pain disorder is a condition that involves both physical trauma and psychological factors…

[163] Based on the testimony of the medical experts I am satisfied that the pain described by the plaintiff, in large part, is real and I do not find her to be dishonest. However, in my view, she has exaggerated her symptoms to some degree…

[168] Having considered these opinions and the opinions of the other experts, I am satisfied that the motor vehicle accident, which I have already determined to have resulted from the defendant Mohan’s negligence, was largely, although not exclusively, the cause of the plaintiff’s “constellation” of conditions. The plaintiff has established on a balance of probabilities that the defendant’s negligence materially contributed to her condition. I am also satisfied that the plaintiff’s condition is not motivated by a desire for secondary gain. By that I mean the third principle stated by Lambert J. I accept that the plaintiff wishes to be free from her pain; however, her failure to mitigate, much like the exaggeration of her symptoms, in my view should be considered in the determination of damages.

[169] Dr. Anderson and Dr. Caillier both expressed the opinion that the plaintiff suffered from chronic pain disorder. None of the medical experts said that the plaintiff does not suffer from chronic pain disorder. The defendant’s expert neurologist Dr. Teal opined that the plaintiff’s primary problems were related to symptoms of pain which are significantly amplified by psychological factors. At the same time, he agreed with counsel for the plaintiff that some of his observations were consistent with someone with chronic pain disorder.

[170] I am satisfied that the plaintiff’s condition is properly described as chronic pain disorder…

[187] Having considered the cases referred to by counsel for both parties, and factoring in the failure of the plaintiff to mitigate as well as her exaggeration of her symptoms, I have concluded that an award of non-pecuniary damages should be $100,000.

bc injury law, chronic pain syndrome, Mohan v. Khan, Mr. Justice Bowden