$160,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Head Injury With Lingering Cognitive Issues

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a collision.

In the recent case (Dube v. Dube) the Plaintiff was injured as a passenger involved in a single vehicle collision.  The Defendant accepted fault.  The crash caused a variety of injuries including a traumatic brain injury which caused cognitive deficits which were expected to linger indefinitely.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $160,000 Madam Justice Burke provided the following reasons:

0]         Based on my review of the medical evidence, I find that Ms. Dube suffered a head injury or MTBI, and physical injuries to her head, neck, back, shoulders, right leg, and abrasions and contusions to her chest, abdomen and elbow. The impact of the MTBI has created the debilitating injuries affecting Ms. Dube’s cognitive functioning. She has headaches, fatigue, memory issues, speed impediment, multi-tasking issues and anxiety.

[51]         I do not agree with the defence that Ms. Dube’s earlier medical or employment history establishes that she was “generally” disabled or reluctant to work. Rather, the evidence establishes that work was an important part of Ms. Dube’s active lifestyle. The evidence shows that Ms. Dube was committed to recovery and eager to participate in the workforce.

[52]         Both the medical and lay evidence establish that Ms. Dube has been unable to return to her previous activities and has become socially withdrawn. The only expert who opined that Ms. Dube was not disabled as a result of the accident was Dr. Arthur, who does not have any expertise with respect to cognitive functioning and its impact on Ms. Dube’s ability to do her job. Dr. Teal’s opinion was undermined by its reliance on an inaccurate fact. Accordingly, I conclude that as a result of the accident, Ms. Dube will continue to suffer from cognitive impairment and chronic pain to some degree…

[65]         As noted earlier, Ms. Dube suffered a variety of injuries in the accident including a MTBI. The witnesses painted a fundamentally different picture of Ms. Dube before and after the accident. She will continue to suffer ongoing cognitive problems (including memory issues) that have contributed to her social withdrawal. These symptoms have impacted her significantly. Her friends and family have corroborated this.

[66]         As noted in Stapley, the assessment of non-pecuniary damages depends on the particular circumstances of the individual. I have concluded that the authorities provided by the plaintiff are more useful than the authorities offered by the defendant in assessing the case at bar. This is largely because the types of cognitive impairments that I have found to exist in this case are not particularly evident in the defendant’s authorities. I have considered Ms. Dube’s age as well as the nature of her injuries and her ongoing symptoms. I make specific note of the evident distress she has experienced due to the cognitive impact of her injuries, her impact of that on her life generally and her withdrawal from social activities. I am of the view that an appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages is $160,000.

bc injury law, Dube v. Dube, head injury, Madam Justice Burke, mild traumatic brain injury

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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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