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$12,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For 7 month Whiplash Injury

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Penticton Registry, assessing damages for soft tissue injuries caused by a motor vehicle collision.
In last week’s case (Kingsfield v. Powers) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2007 collision in Oliver, BC.  Fault for the crash was disputed and ultimately the Court held that both parties were to blame with the Plaintiff shouldering 75% of the fault.
The Plaintiff suffered from chronic back pain although the Court did not accept this was caused by the collision.  The Court did, however, accept the Plaintiff suffered a whiplash injury which remained symptomatic for 7 months.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $12,000 (before the reduction for liability) Mr. Justice Barrow provided the following reasons:

[57] It follows from the foregoing that I am not satisfied that the on-going low back problems that Mr. Kingsfield is experiencing are causally related to the injuries he sustained in the motor vehicle accident.

[58] The next issue is an assessment of Mr. Kingsfield’s other injuries. They gave rise to fairly significant pain and discomfort for the first month after the accident. He was unable to do his job during that time, and when he did return to work it was to light duties for about six weeks. He continued to experience headaches until approximately mid-March and his neck was painful beyond that, perhaps until June 2008, some seven months after the accident. During this time his injuries did affect his life. He had difficulty sleeping, did not continue with his recreational activities, curling in particular, and generally felt poorly.

[59] The cases of Dolha v. Heft, 2011 BCSC 738; Morales v. Neilson, 2009 BCSC 1890; and De Leon v. Harold, 2010 BCSC 1802, are instructive in terms of quantum. All involved soft tissue injuries that resolved within a year. In Dolha the plaintiff’s significant injury was to her back and neck. Those injuries resolved within six to nine months following the accident. She was awarded $10,000 in non-pecuniary damages. In Morales the plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries to his shoulder, neck and back. While those injuries limited his activities somewhat he was able to work seven days a week in a physically demanding job since the accident. His injuries were all resolved by a year post-accident. He was awarded $11,000 in non-pecuniary damages. In De Leon, the stoic plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries which, due to her active participation, resolved substantially within two months of the accident and almost entirely within six months. She was awarded non-pecuniary damages of $12,000.

[60] I am of the view that an appropriate award of non-pecuniary damages in this case is $12,000. Mr. Kingsfield’s injuries significantly affected his life, including how he performed at work. Although he is entitled to compensation for past wage loss, I accept that the plaintiff takes pride in being able to do his job and his inability to do it was a source of significant anxiety while he awaited the resolution of his injuries.

bc injury law, Kingsfield v. Powers, Mr. Justice Barrow