$75,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Moderate/Severe Post Traumatic Stess Disorder

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court awarding just over $320,000 in damages as a result of a serious BC Truck Accident.
In today’s case (Bonham v. Weir) the Plaintiff was driving a transport truck into Fort Nelson, BC, when another vehicle “crossed the centre line and collided head on with his truck. ”  The Plaintiff’s truck “burst into flames and (the Plaintiff) had to crawl out of the burning cab through a broken windshield.
ICBC admitted fault on behalf of the driver of the other vehicle leaving the court to deal only with an assessment of damages.
Mr. Justice Smith found that while the Plaintiff’s physical injuries were relatively minor and healed within a month or two, the psychological impact of the crash had more lasting and debilitating effects.   In awarding $75,000 for the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages, the court summarized his psychological injuries and their effect on his life as follows:

[25]         Mr. Bonham was involved in a horrific collision which could easily have been fatal for him, as it was for the other driver. Although his minor physical injuries healed quickly, he suffered and continues to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. There is no doubt that his psychological complaints are genuine and that this condition has a very real and severe impact on his life. His personality has changed. He no longer interacts with family and friends as he used to. He has lost confidence in his abilities and lost interest in most of the things he formerly enjoyed. The psychological symptoms persist more than two years after the collision. Although the plaintiff can expect some improvement in his condition, some symptoms are likely to remain indefinitely.

[26]         Non-pecuniary damages must be assessed according to the impact of the injuries on the individual plaintiff. Decisions of the court in other cases are never completely comparable and provide no more than general guidance. However, recent decisions of this court that I have found particularly helpful in identifying a range of damages applicable to this care are:  Leung v. Foo, 2009 BCSC 747; Carpenter v. Whistler Air Services, 2004 BCSC 1510; and Latuszek v. Bell Air Taxi, 2009 BCSC 798.

[27]         Taking into account the differences and similarities between those cases and this one and, most importantly, the evidence of the impact of this plaintiff’s injuries on his life, I find $75,000 to be an appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages.

This case is also worth reviewing for the courts awards of Loss of Future Earning Capacity.
In this case the Plaintiff’s past wage loss was modest up to the time of trial totalling neat $6,000. Notwithstanding this minimal past wage loss the Court awarded significant damages of $225,000 for loss of future earning capacity because of the ongoing impact of the Plaintiff’s PTSD on his ability to work in his own occupation.  Paragraphs 28-42 of this case are worth reviewing for anyone interested in the law of damages in BC relating to future wage loss.

Bonham v. Weir, diminished earning capacity, future wage loss, pain and suffering, post traumatic stress disorder, psychological injuries, PTSD, truck accidents

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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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