$70,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Soft Tissue Injuries Perpetuated by Stress

Reasons for judgement were released today addressing damages for lingering soft tissue injuries compounded by pre-existing emotional distress.
In today’s case (Adkin v. Grant) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2010 rear end collision.  She was 66 at the time of the crash and 69 at the time of trial.  She suffered a variety of soft tissue injuries and some of her symptoms continued to the time of trial.  A perpetuating factor for this was pre-existing emotional distress which exacerbated her symptoms.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $70,000 Mr. Justice Halfyard provided the following reasons:
209]     As mentioned, I find that the motor vehicle accident of September 3, 2010 caused injury to the soft tissues of the plaintiff’s neck and upper back and that the injury was of moderate degree. As a result of this injury, the plaintiff suffered pain in these areas and, for a limited period of time, suffered headaches. I find that the injury did not aggravate or worsen the plaintiff’s pre-existing physical conditions, but was super-imposed over them. There may have been minimal injury to the soft tissues of the plaintiff’s lower back, but if so, that injury had healed within six weeks of the accident…
[212]     Both Dr. Salvian and Dr. Kemble agree that the plaintiff is still suffering some neck, upper back and shoulder pain as a result of the soft tissue injury she received in the car accident. It is implicit in Dr. Salvian’s opinion that he says the accident is still causing all of the pain that the plaintiff continues to experience in the soft tissues of her neck, upper back and shoulders. I have rejected that all-encompassing opinion. Dr. Kemble seems to say that most of the soft tissue pain that the plaintiff continues to experience in her neck, upper back and shoulders is being caused (intensified and perpetuated) by her emotional distress (and he says that the emotional distress was a pre-existing condition and was not caused by the accident). I have not accepted those opinions of Dr. Kemble where they conflict with the opinions of Dr. Allison.
[213]     Both Dr. Salvian and Dr. Kemble agree that the plaintiff will continue to suffer physical symptoms as a result of her injury, for an indefinite period of time into the future (although they differ as to the frequency and intensity of such symptoms).
[214]     I accept Dr. Kemble’s opinions to the extent previously identified. I find that some of the plaintiff’s ongoing symptoms of pain in her neck, upper back and shoulders are being caused by the injury from the accident. And I find that she will continue to experience episodes of increased pain in the future, as a result of her injury on September 3, 2010.
[215]     I find that the plaintiff had a pre-existing condition of emotional distress which was affecting her to some extent at the time of the accident. I find also that the plaintiff’s experience of being involved in the motor vehicle accident, her physical injury, and her emotional reaction to that injury caused additional emotional distress to her. That emotional distress adversely affected the plaintiff’s powers of concentration and memory for at least a year, and perhaps longer. However, the effects of the plaintiff’s distress on her memory and concentration was minimal (almost non-existent) by the end of May 2011 when she was examined by Dr. Allison. The plaintiff was continuing to feel emotional distress at the time of trial, and I find that some of that ongoing stress is being caused by the accident of September 3, 2010…
[233]     In all of the circumstances, it is my opinion that a fair and reasonable amount of damages for non-pecuniary loss would be $70,000, and I order that the plaintiff be awarded that amount.
 
 

Adkin v. Grant, bc injury law, Mr. Justice Halfyard

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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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