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$200,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Disabling Chronic Depression and PTSD

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for chronic and disabling psychiatric injuries.

In the recent case (Gill v. Aperdoorn) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2015 collision.  The Defendant admitted liability.  The crash resulted in severe depression and PTSD.  The injuries were disabling and the prognosis for further improvement was not optimistic.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $200,000 Madam Justice Gropper provided the following reasons:

[51]         Applying those factors, Mr. Gill is now 49 years old and he has been suffering from his injury for almost four years. The treating doctors and Dr. Tarzwell opine that Mr. Gill’s psychological problems continue and will not be cured. Mr. Gill is isolated from his peers. Mr. Gill’s ambition and drive towards his career goals have dissipated. Mr. Gill’s future career prospects, if there are any, will likely include work that is less challenging, interesting or rewarding for him. Mr. Gill has lost his own sense of self-worth and confidence. Mr. Gill’s degree of emotional suffering has been extreme and reflects a lonely, frustrated, and frightened individual. Mr. Gill’s family, marital and social relationships have been directly impaired, as have his physical and mental abilities. Mr. Gill has completely lost his pre‑accident lifestyle. Mr. Gill is unable to bear his loss stoically.

[52]         The defence argues that the experts have made a positive diagnosis in that the plaintiff can improve and can be rehabilitated to return to his pre-accident employment status. The defence argues that it is probable, although not certain, that Mr. Gill will return to longshoreman’s work.

[53]         The expert opinions are not optimistic about Mr. Gill’s recovery or his return to work. Though the most recent residential treatment program demonstrates some glimmer of hope, it is just that. It is reasonable that Dr. Tarzwell acknowledges Mr. Gill may get better, but he does not suggest that it is likely. That evidence does not meet the balance of probabilities standard.

[56]         Mr. Gill’s physical symptoms have been secondary to his psychological injuries. The psychological injuries have had a devastating impact on every aspect of his life. He was a happy, healthy, ambitious person. He was involved in a loving marriage and had close relationships with both his children. He was pursuing a job that he loved. He enjoyed socializing, he was concerned about his appearance, and he was physically active. His future was bright. That is no longer the case. Mr. Gill is a shadow of his former self. His interaction with his friends and family is non‑existent. The effect of these injuries on his day-to-day functioning is profound. Some of his family, friends, and the experts described that Mr. Gill is unable to even engage in basic health self-care and personal hygiene.

[57]         Mr. Gill has suicidal ideation that manifested itself in his attempt to take his own life in January 2018.

[58]         I have reviewed the authorities provided by the parties. I find the decision of Felix v. Hearne, 2011 BCSC 1236 to be apposite. In that case, the plaintiff suffered from the combined effects of physical injuries along with a “pervasive emotional disorder” that was “devastating to [her] personal and vocational life” (at para. 47). The court found that the plaintiff was no longer self-reliant and could not engage in her pre-accident activities or social life. Non-pecuniary damages were assessed at $200,000.

[59]         I have taken a global approach to non-pecuniary damages and consolidate both Mr. Gill’s physical and psychological injuries in assessing Mr. Gill’s non‑pecuniary damages at $200,000.

Gill v. Aperdoorn, Madam Justice Gropper, Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD