$120,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Vestibular Injury

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court,  New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for chronic vestibular issues following a motor vehicle collision.
In last week’s case (Reynolds v. M. Sanghera and Sons Trucking Ltd.) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 collision.  The Defendant’s tractor trailer rolled down a hill, unoccupied, colliding with the Plaintiff’s vehicle.  The plaintiff suffered a variety of soft tissue injuries along with vestibular dysfunction.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $120,000 Mr. Justice Davies provided the following reasons:
[52]         Mr. Reynolds suffered serious and debilitating injuries in the collision, which have had a profound impact upon his enjoyment of life. The most serious of those injuries are the injuries to his neck and the vestibular injuries he suffered which separately or in tandem have caused fear of further injury from rapid movement, migraine headaches, anxiety, fear of driving and other travel, and sleeplessness. The injuries are still unresolved and will likely continue to affect all aspects of his enjoyment of life.
[53]         I accept the evidence of the lay witnesses that prior to the collision Mr. Reynolds was a man of almost boundless energy and enthusiasm for life. While he still tries hard to work in his business and does so with some success, his enjoyment of his work is now compromised by his medical conditions caused by the collision. His life is now far more one-dimensional than before, with work and the energy required to continue with his business now dominating all other aspects of life for which he now has both less energy and time because of the toll that simply working now exacts.
[54]         As to the prognoses for improvement in future, Dr. Underwood opined that it is extremely guarded. Dr. Stevens concluded that it is highly unlikely that Mr. Reynolds will return to his pre-collision state. She also stated that Mr. Reynolds downplays his symptoms.
[55]         Although I consider the award for non-pecuniary damages suggested by the defendant to be inordinately low, I also do not agree with Mr. Arnold’s submission that an award of $150,000 is appropriate in this case. In my view, the injuries suffered by Ms. Felix which resulted in a non-pecuniary damage award of $200,000, and by Ms. Cantin which resulted in a non-pecuniary award of $150,000, were more serious and debilitating than those suffered by Mr. Reynolds. They involved more serious physical injuries requiring surgery, and more severe psychological problems in the case of Ms. Felix, and more cognitive and psychological problems in the case of Ms. Cantin.
[56]         In all of the circumstances I find that an award of $120,000 will appropriately compensate Mr. Reynolds for his past, present and future pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. That award recognizes the impact of the debilitating effect of the neck injury suffered by him and the related dizziness and vertigo that are similar to those suffered by Mr. Moukhine and Mr. Yang, both of whom were awarded $90,000, but also allows compensation for the debilitating effects of his past, present and future mood and anxiety disorders and the sleeplessness which has so dominated his life since the collision and will likely continue.

Mr. Justice Davies, Reynolds v. Sanghera and Sons Trucking Ltd., Vestibular Injuries

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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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