$70,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessement For Largely Recovered but "Vulnerable" Soft Tissue Injuries

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for injuries sustained in a collision.
In today’s case (Boysen-Barstow v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2011 collision caused by an unidentified motorist. ICBC accepted statutory fault for the collision.  The Plaintiff sustained various soft tissue injuries which enjoyed significant recovery but remained susceptible to aggravation.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $70,000 Mr. Justice Williams provided the following reasons:

25]         My conclusion is that the plaintiff sustained moderate soft tissue injuries in the accident, causing her neck and back pain and headaches. The headaches resolved within a few months, and the other physical discomfort gradually resolved to the point that, by taking appropriate care, Ms. Barstow was substantially pain free by the end of 2013. I accept that she has a certain vulnerability to back discomfort with prolonged sitting and that requires some management; that is a condition which has not fully resolved, although it is certainly not characterizable as an acute disability. It is a relatively minor artefact of the accident requiring some accommodation.

[26]         It follows that I am not fully able to accept the opinion of Dr. le Nobel as an accurate view of Ms. Barstow’s condition and prognosis. With respect, it simply does not accord with the substantial body of evidence that is before me.

[27]         As for the psychological aspect of the effects of the accident, the phobia experienced while travelling in a motor vehicle, both as a passenger and a driver, I accept that was, certainly initially, a problem that caused serious difficulties for the plaintiff. It contributed to her difficulties in carrying out her duties at work when she returned and was, I am sure, a factor in her decision to end that employment. However, I am also satisfied that by the time of trial, that has substantially resolved and whatever lingering unease she may have in an automobile is of a quite minor magnitude.

[28]         I accept the evidence of the plaintiff and Mr. Barstow that the plaintiff’s disposition and temperament was adversely affected to an extent by the accident, though that has diminished over time. I also acknowledge that the plaintiff’s marriage was, during that time, made more difficult as a result.

[29]         In terms of determining the appropriate quantum of damages to compensate the plaintiff for her pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life, the role of the court is to arrive at a sum which is fair to both the plaintiff and the defendant, and which provides a full and proper one-time compensation for all of the effects that have been caused by the defendants’ negligence—effects past, present, and future…

[35]         In my respectful view, when the circumstances are considered in their totality, together with the cases relied upon, the quantum of the award sought by the plaintiff is excessive. I find that an appropriate award for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life is $70,000.

bc injury law, Boysten-Barstow v. ICBC, Mr. Justice Williams

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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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