$65,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Frontal Headaches

Reasons for judgment were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing non-pecuniary damages for chronic headaches caused by a motor vehicle collision.
In this week’s case (Murphy v. Obrien) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2007 collision.  The Defendant accepted liability.  The Plaintiff suffered various soft tissue injuries which posed problems but the most debilitating consequence were chronic frontal headaches which were still symptomatic at the time of trial and expected to continue into the future.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $65,000 Mr. Justice Steeves provided the following reasons:
[51]         There is general acceptance among the experts that the plaintiff suffered a soft tissue injury to his neck on May 17, 2007. There was no fracture, dislocation or nerve root injury. There is restricted range of motion in all directions and even simple tasks such as reading bring on headaches and neck pain. The plaintiff testified that, at times, he actually vomits because of the pain from his headaches. He has tried various treatments with some affect. The most recent has been Botox injections which have given him some relief. For example, Dr. Tsui administered the injections and, in a report dated May 10, 2012, he reported that the plaintiff said “the migrainous headaches have abated since the last treatment.” Similarly a report dated August 15, 2012 reported a “good response in terms of the migraines.” Despite this improvement the frontal headaches continue. The plaintiff’s evidence about his headaches is consistent with that of Dr. Tsui.
[52]         Therefore, the current situation is that the severe migrainous headaches have abated but the frontal headaches remain and they are chronic. I conclude that these headaches, and the neck pain, are as a result of the May 2007 motor vehicle accident. Further, these symptoms are independent of any problems with the left knee although, as will be seen, the left knee is certainly a relevant and complicating factor. These headaches are obviously very real for the plaintiff, with the consequences noted, and they are consistent with the medical evidence…
[62]         Overall, I conclude that an amount of $65,000 is an appropriate amount for non-pecuniary damages in this case. That figure recognizes the chronic frontal headaches. It also recognizes the undoubted emotional toll the headaches have had on his life, including his family, friends and the limitations on activities he used to do before the 2007 accident. And, it recognizes that pain medications for the left knee have played a role in the current situation.
For more BC non-pecuniary assessments for headaches you can click here to search this site’s archives.

bc injury law, chronic frontal headaches, Mr. Justice Steeves, Murphy v. Obrien

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ERIK
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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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