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$115,000 Pain and Suffering Awarded for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

In reasons for judgement released yesterday (Williamson v. Suna) by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, damages of just over $266,000 were awarded for injuries and losses as a result of a 2004 motor vehicle collision.
The Plaintiff was a 38 year old member of the Canadian Armed Forces at the time of the car crash.  The crash was a significant head on collision.  The issue of fault was admitted focusing the trial solely on damages.
The Plaintiff suffered various injuries and symptoms as a result of this crash including a mild traumatic brain injury, headaches, poor sleep, irritability and difficulties with memory.  While the medical evidence did not rule out further possible recovery the testifying physcians stated that the plaintiff would probably suffer from headaches, neck pain and consequences of the mild traumatic brain injury for many years to come.
In awarding $115,000 for the plaintiffs non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) Mr. Justice Goepel summarized the consequences of the injuries on the Plaintiff as follows:

[41]            Prior to the accident, Mr. Williamson was in good health.  He was physically active, and enjoyed activities such as fly fishing, scuba diving, sky diving, and competitive target shooting.  He was a former member of the Canadian national shooting team. 

[42]            After the accident, Mr. Williamson stopped skydiving and scuba diving.  While he still participates in target shooting, the enjoyment that he derives from that activity has decreased.  He explained that the noise from the rifle aggravates his headache, and the kick from the rifle aggravates his neck pain. 

[43]            Before the accident, Mr. Williamson was an active photographer.  He had taken a number of photography courses.  Since the accident, the enjoyment he derives from photography has decreased.  He has difficulty maintaining the static neck positions required to take quality photographs. 

[44]            Mr. Williamson testified that as a result of the accident and his headaches, he now seldom goes out in the evenings.  His irritability has obviously impacted on his family life.  Because of his headaches, he is unable to enjoy his young child as much as he should.

[45]            Mr. Williamson realizes that his injuries, particularly his difficulties with memory and concentration may eventually curtail his military career.  That possibility has caused him considerable anguish and diminished his enjoyment of life.

In addition to non-pecuniary damages, $150,000 was awarded for the Plaintiff’s diminished earning capacity.  Although he missed little time from work in the Canadian Armed Forces and in fact was promoted in the years after the car crash the court found that there was a possibility that the Plaintiff would not be able to continue in his current position or perhaps in the military  altogether as a result of his injuries.  Paragraphs 52-62 are worth reviewing for a discussion demonstrating how damages for future wage loss / diminished earning capacity can be made in an ICBC Injury Claim even where there is no wage loss from the time of the crash to the time of trial.

icbc pain and suffering awards, mild traumatic brain injury, MTBI, williamson v. suna