$40,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for "Longstanding" Soft Tissue Injuries Caused by Impaired Driver

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Prince George Registry, assessing damages for long standing soft tissue injuries.
In this week’s case (Hahn v. Barnes) the Plaintiff was injured in a 1998 collision.  He was 5 years old at the time sitting as a passenger in a vehicle that was rear-ended by the Defendant.  The Defendant was found fully at fault with the Court noting that she was “under the influence of alcohol and not paying attention to her driving“.
The Plaintiff was 19 by the time of trial and testified that he sustained injuries to his neck and back and that his symptoms carried on since the collision.  The Court accepted this evidence and assessed non-pecuniary damages at $40,000.  In doing so Mr. Justice Tindale provided the following reasons:

[71] Credibility is the central issue in this case. I have had an opportunity to view the plaintiff, his mother, his father and his soccer coach Mr. Pohl give evidence. I accept that they are all honest witnesses. There are no notations regarding the back problems of the plaintiff in the clinical records of Dr. McKinley. Unfortunately, Dr. McKinley is not here to give evidence regarding the accuracy of his clinical records. I accept the evidence of the plaintiff, Sharon Hahn, and Keith Hahn regarding the plaintiff’s back symptoms. I find the plaintiff’s back symptoms are from the motor vehicle accident on June 16, 1998.

[72] I also accept the plaintiff’s, Sharon Hahn’s and Keith Hahn’s evidence relating to the neck symptoms. The plaintiff clearly had neck pain after the accident and there was some radiographs suggesting pre-cervical soft tissue swelling at the time of the accident. I find that the plaintiff’s neck symptoms are from the motor vehicle accident of June 16, 1998. I also find, given the evidence of doctors Dommisse and Travlos, the plaintiff’s neck and back symptoms can be defined as chronic in nature…

[76] In this case, the plaintiff is young, and has a long standing neck and back injury. However, the plaintiff’s injuries are not severe or disabling. I do not have any evidence that the injuries have caused the plaintiff any emotional suffering…

[78] An appropriate award for Non-Pecuniary damages, given the length of the plaintiff’s symptoms and the nature of the neck and back strain, is $40,000.

bc injury law, Hahn v. Barnes, Mr. Justice Tindale

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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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