Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Chronic Pain Valued at $125,000

Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court dealing with compensation for serious injuries including Mild Traumatic Brain injury and Chronic Pain.
In today’s case (Slocombe v. Wowchuck) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 rear-end BC Car Crash.  Liability was admitted so the trial focused solely on quantum of damages.  The Plaintiff suffered serious injuries.   Total damages of over $940,000 were awarded by Madam Justice Morrison including an award of $125,000 for non-pecuniary damages.  In assessing the this head of damage the court summarized the Plaintiff’s injuries and their effect on his life as follows:

[197] This was an accident that has caused serious injuries to the plaintiff.  He suffered a mild traumatic brain injury that he appears to have recovered fully from at this point in time.  Dr. Kaushansky did testify that the plaintiff could be at risk if there were a further blow to his head.

[198] The injury to the plaintiff’s sternum no longer poses problems.  There has been a full recovery.

[199] The plaintiff still experiences headaches following the accident.  However, the serious headaches have been resolved, and the headaches the plaintiff now gets are certainly real, but they are not of the serious and disabling nature that they were initially.

[200] Mr. Slocombe still complains of some neck problems, but these complaints are periodic, and are not the cause of his serious complaints at this time.

[201] The second worst injury was to the thoracic spine area.  This pain continues, and has been referred to as a soft tissue type of injury.  Dr. Rothwell was of the opinion that the degenerative disc disease processes have been generated in the spine, including the thoracic spine area by the motor vehicle accident.  It is unlikely that there will be further recovery in this area.  I accept this opinion.

[202] The most serious area of injury is to the lumbosacral spine area.  This injury began at the instant of the double impact of the accident, and has continued to a painful degree to this day.  I conclude that the chronic pain has had a profound effect on the plaintiff’s life in all areas, and will continue to do so.  I accept the evidence of the plaintiff’s medical experts who find the motor vehicle accident was the cause of this injury.

[203] Mr. Slocombe had a pre-existing asymptomatic spondylolisthesis, and in my view, this became symptomatic as a result of the accident.  That is the only conclusion that can be reached, from all the evidence, on a balance of probabilities.

[204] There was medical evidence at trial that there are other areas of injury in the lumbar spine area in addition to the spondylolisthesis that have now been rendered symptomatic.

[205] When working at his carpentry, Mr. Slocombe is making mistakes that he was not making prior to the accident.  He is experiencing some cognitive difficulties which the doctors, including Dr. van Rijn and Dr. Mok as well as Dr. Kaushansky attribute to the pain and mood difficulties that he has been experiencing since the accident.  These difficulties are particularly apparent the longer Mr. Slocombe works.  They have been confirmed by testing and also by the evidence not only of the plaintiff but also of his father and Mr. Graham, one of his clients.  These cognitive difficulties are continuing…

[229] Tom Slocombe’s life has changed dramatically due to the accident.  He no longer has the high energy, endurance and health to perform the work that he loves, carpentry, or to take part in the social and sporting activities that gave him such pleasure.  He is in constant pain, and will probably be for the rest of his life.  He was an active, fun-loving 25 year old with a good job, good prospects, and a steady girlfriend who became his fiancée.  He had a vehicle that he was making sure he was paying for, and a life that included active sports, travel and social activities with friends and family; he was usually the initiator.

[230] He is no longer able to be independent financially, he has no vehicle, and he has the added difficulty of not being able to sit for any length of time.  His passion for carpentry has been lifelong.  It is apparent he will not be able to earn his living and continue with this line of work.

[231] His family and others testified to his change in disposition and mood, his inability to join their normal activities, and his difficulties in coping with his pain and sleeplessness.  His enjoyment of life has been dramatically altered.  There will be an award for non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $125,000.

mild trauamtic brain injury, MTBI, non-pecuniary damages, pain and suffering, slocombe v. wowchuck

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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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