$40,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Young Mom With Soft Tissue Injuries

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, awarding just over $43,000 in total damages to a Plaintiff as a result of a 2005 car crash.
In today’s case (Daniels v. Haaksma) the Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle that was rear ended.  As a result of the collision she suffered “mild to moderate soft tissue injuries to her lower and mid-back, and moderate soft tissue injuries to her neck. ”  Mr. Justice Ehrcke found that while these injuries “resulted in considerable pain, discomfort and loss of range of motion, as well as headaches and loss of sleep”  these largely improved after 6 months and ‘substantially recovered” 3.5 years after the crash when the Plaintiff was injured in a subsequent collision.
In awarding $40,000 for non-pecuniary damages for the Plaintiff’s pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life the Court stressed the fact that the Plaintiff was a young mother at the time of the crash and that her injuries caused her to lose out “on experiencing the full joy of raising her son when he was an infant“.  In assessing the Plaintiff’s damages at this figure Mr. Justice Ehrcke made the following findings:
[41] As set out above, I have concluded that the plaintiff suffered mild to moderate soft tissue injuries to her lower and mid-back and moderate soft tissue injuries to her neck as a result of the 2005 accident, resulting in pain, discomfort, and loss of range of motion, headaches, and loss of sleep. These symptoms were particularly acute for the first several months after the accident, but they improved about 75 percent after six months. She continued, however, to experience some pain and discomfort over the next two years. By the time of the subsequent accident in October 2008, she was substantially recovered and did not have any continuing limitations on her ability to work…

[45] One important factor in the present case is that the plaintiff’s injuries came at a particularly unfortunate time for her, when she was trying to care for her infant son. This was her first child. He was only four months old at the time of the accident. As a result of her injuries, she could not enjoy a carefree experience of playing with him. She could not lift him without someone else’s assistance. She had to have someone hand the child to her when he needed feeding. Because she was breast feeding, she was reluctant to take painkillers to relieve her pain. It is a cliché, but true, that children are young only once. The plaintiff feels that as a result of the accident she lost out on experiencing the full joy of raising her son when he was an infant. That is a loss that she can never recover. This was a great disappointment to her.

[46] The evidence in this case also establishes that the accident put considerable stress on the plaintiff’s relationship with her fiancée. He was working long hours at his new business, and when he came home, he had to take on housekeeping chores that would normally have been shared. He described how, as a result of the accident, the plaintiff was no longer the active person she had been, and how much of the fun went out of their relationship.

[47] Particularly important in this case is the fact that the plaintiff had been an accomplished soccer player prior to the accident. This was clearly a very important part of her life. She had been playing since she was a young child. She played on three different leagues at a very high level. She had travelled to foreign countries with her team. To a large extent, her social life revolved around her athletic activities. It was an important factor in initially bringing the plaintiff and her fiancée together. After the accident, she found she could not play soccer. She tried for a month or so in 2006, but had to stop…

[50] On the evidence, I am satisfied that the plaintiff tried to resume playing soccer in 2006 and perhaps again in 2007 and that she stopped playing because she felt the pain from her injuries prevented her from playing at the level she had previously been accustomed to. I am satisfied that this is a factor that should properly be taken into account in assessing non-pecuniary damages…

[53] In my view, the severity of the injuries, the length of their persistence, and the effect which they had on the plaintiff’s life in the present case are more serious than in the cases cited by the defendant, and somewhat less serious than the cases cited by the plaintiff. At the end of the day, every case is unique and must be determined on the basis of its own facts.

[54] I am satisfied that in the circumstances of the present case the proper assessment of non-pecuniary damages is $40,000.

back injury, Daniels v. Haaksma, loss of joy for parent, Mr. Justice Ehrcke, neck injury, non-pecuniary damages, pain and suffering, soft tissue injuries

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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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