$105,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Major Depression and Conversion Disorder With Seizures

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Prince George Registry, assessing damages for chronic psychological injuries following a collision.
In today’s case (Chevalier v. Gray) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2014 collision.  It was a t-bone type impact and the Defendant accepted fault.
As a result of the crash the plaintiff suffered a major depressive disorder along with conversion disorder with accompanies seizures.  Prognosis for full recovery was poor and the injureis were partially disabling.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $105,000 Mr. Justice Tindale provided the following reasons:

[258]     In this case the plaintiff suffered musculoligamentous strains of the cervical spine as well as mild headaches, a mild strain of the thoracic area and a muscular strain of the lumbar spine. She also sustained a wrist injury.

[259]     The defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff to take reasonable care to avoid causing her physical and mental injuries.

[260]     The plaintiff certainly had pre-existing vulnerabilities to her mental health. Dr. Tomita however opined that the MVA was a predominant cause of both her conversion disorder and major depression. Dr. Udamaga opined that the MVA was a predominant factor that precipitated a decline in her mental health leading to a diagnosis of conversion disorder.

[261]     The evidence discloses that the plaintiff thought her vehicle was on fire when she was trying to extricate her elderly mother from the vehicle. She developed a sense of guilt about causing her mother’s injuries and ultimate death even though she was not at fault for the MVA.

[262]     Both Dr. Tomita and Dr. Udamaga testified that it was unlikely that the plaintiff would have developed conversion disorder absent the MVA.

[263]     The evidence discloses that the effects of the mental injuries to the plaintiff have been pronounced, long-lasting and debilitating.

[264]     The evidence also discloses that symptoms of the conversion disorder in the form of the plaintiff’s legs twitching regularly and for a prolonged period of time and as Mr. Chevalier described her shivering as if she was cold started shortly after the MVA. These symptoms became very pronounced in September 2014.

[265]     Taking into account all the evidence on this case the MVA was a material contributing cause to the plaintiff’s physical injuries and to her psychological injuries. The plaintiff was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident where she was physically injured and witnessed her ailing mother being injured. It is reasonably foreseeable that the plaintiff would suffer psychological injury.

[266]     But for the MVA the plaintiff would not have received the physical injuries that she did as outlined by Dr. Laidlow and would not have developed a major depressive disorder and a conversion disorder with seizures…

[270]     Taking into account the plaintiff’s condition prior to the MVA, the plaintiff’s injuries and poor prognosis, the effects that her psychological injuries have had on her personal and work life and the case authorities provided by the plaintiff an appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages is $105,000.  This takes into account the real and substantive future possibilities, both positive and negative that could impact the plaintiff’s life.  In this case, it is primarily the negative possibilities caused by her pre-existing chronic pain and intermittent mood disorders that must be accounted for.

Chevalier v. Gray, Conversion Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Mr. Justice Tindale

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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