$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment For Depression and Anxiety

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for accident related anxiety and depression.
In last week’s case (Yeung v. Dowbiggen) the Plaintiff was involved in 4 separate rear-end collisions.   These spanned from 2008-2011.  Fault was admitted by the rear motorist in each of the crashes.  The Plaintiff alleged that as a result of these crashes she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  While this diagnosis was ultimately rejected by the trial judge, the Court did conclude that these collisions caused depression and anxiety.  These conditions remained symptomatic at the time of trial.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 Madam Justice Humphries gave the following reasons:
[103] Taking into consideration all of the evidence and the opinions of these three doctors, I do not accept that Ms. Yeung has post traumatic stress disorder, although she apparently has some symptoms of it.  I accept that she has a mild condition of depression and anxiety caused by these accidents, and that it did not, in any significant fashion, pre-date the accidents…

[119] Ms. Yeung is, as Dr. O’Shaughnessy said, vulnerable and emotionally young for her age, but I also accept that there is validity to Dr. Levin’s concern that she has some secondary gain from the devoted attention of her father, her boyfriend and Dr. Guest.

[120] However, it is extremely unfortunate that Ms. Yeung has suffered a series of accidents and that her recovery has been set back regularly and incrementally as a result.  Even a strong person would have difficulty dealing with a steady recurrence of similar accidents.  The effect of four sequential accidents is, according to the medical experts, cumulative, and each time she begins to start to improve and return to a better level of functioning, she has been hit again, which causes a regression in her improvement with an overall cumulative effect on her life.  While the physical symptoms are not extreme, they are still persisting and the psychological effect of the repeated events has seriously affected Ms. Yeung’s ability to enjoy life for a protracted period of time.  While it is likely she will continue to improve if she is fortunate enough not to be involved in more accidents, she has already spent four years in a state of turmoil and physical pain.

[121] Several of the cases referred to by the plaintiff are concerned with injuries with effects that are described as severe and devastating; in one case the plaintiff was competitively unemployable, in another the plaintiff could no longer work at the profession he had trained for.  In my view, the cases submitted by the defendant are of more assistance.  Considering all the evidence within the context of the cases referred to me, and considering that Ms. Yeung has undergone the effects of four accidents, I set non-pecuniary damages at $85,000.

anxiety, bc injury law, depression, Madam Justice Humphries, Yeung v. Dowbiggin

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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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