$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Chronic Post Traumatic Headaches
Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, assessing damages for chronic headaches and an aggravation of a low back injury caused by a motor vehicle collision.
In last week’s case (Drodge v. Kozak) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 two-vehicle collision on Vancouver Island. ICBC admitted the crash was the fault of the other motorist. Following the collision the Plaintiff suffered various injuries including chronic post-traumatic headaches. The Plaintiff argued that these were caused by a traumatic brain injury sustained in the crash. Madam Justice Dardi rejected this argument finding that the Plaintiff did not suffer a brain injury. The Court did, however, find that the headaches were causally linked to trauma sustained in the collision. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 the Court made the following findings:
 I have concluded that the constellation of symptoms that Dr. Smart bases his concussion diagnosis upon are not sufficiently specific to be diagnostic. I prefer Dr. Teal’s opinion that it is unlikely that Mr. Drodge sustained a mild traumatic brain injury. I find that the headache, cognitive, and other symptoms attributed by Dr. Smart to post-concussion syndrome are non-specific symptoms. I accept Dr. Teal’s evidence that there are “multiple reasons for dizziness, for headaches, for sleep disturbances, for mood disturbance … they are not necessarily post-concussional symptoms.” Further, the expert evidence establishes that cognitive difficulties including poor concentration and mood disturbances can develop as a consequence of severe headaches.
 In summary on this issue, I have concluded that on balance the preponderance of the evidence does not support a finding that Mr. Drodge suffered either a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion/post-concussion syndrome.
 Although I have concluded that the evidence falls short of establishing a diagnosis of concussion/post-concussion syndrome, I do accept that Mr. Drodge has suffered chronic headaches and associated cognitive symptoms for some four and a half years since the accident…
 In the end the question of Mr. Drodge’s prognosis is difficult. Taking into account all of the opinion evidence of the experts which conflicted on this point, I have concluded that Mr. Drodge is not likely to make a full recovery. While Mr. Drodge may be able to develop better coping strategies to manage his pain more effectively, and may experience some corresponding improvement in his headache symptoms as well as his back symptoms, there is only a small chance that he will improve to the degree that he will be employable…
 While the authorities are instructive I do not propose to review them in detail as they only provide general guidelines. I have reviewed all of the authorities provided by both counsel, and considering Mr. Drodge’s particular circumstances, and compensating him only for the increase in the exacerbation of his low back symptoms and not for the effects of his pre-existing back condition that he would have experienced in any case, I conclude a fair and reasonable reward for non-pecuniary damages is $85,000.
bc injury law, Drodge v. Kozak, headaches, Madam Justice Dardi, Pre-Existing Back Injury