$200,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Disabling Chronic Depression and PTSD

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for chronic and disabling psychiatric injuries.

In the recent case (Gill v. Aperdoorn) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2015 collision.  The Defendant admitted liability.  The crash resulted in severe depression and PTSD.  The injuries were disabling and the prognosis for further improvement was not optimistic.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $200,000 Madam Justice Gropper provided the following reasons:

[51]         Applying those factors, Mr. Gill is now 49 years old and he has been suffering from his injury for almost four years. The treating doctors and Dr. Tarzwell opine that Mr. Gill’s psychological problems continue and will not be cured. Mr. Gill is isolated from his peers. Mr. Gill’s ambition and drive towards his career goals have dissipated. Mr. Gill’s future career prospects, if there are any, will likely include work that is less challenging, interesting or rewarding for him. Mr. Gill has lost his own sense of self-worth and confidence. Mr. Gill’s degree of emotional suffering has been extreme and reflects a lonely, frustrated, and frightened individual. Mr. Gill’s family, marital and social relationships have been directly impaired, as have his physical and mental abilities. Mr. Gill has completely lost his pre‑accident lifestyle. Mr. Gill is unable to bear his loss stoically.

[52]         The defence argues that the experts have made a positive diagnosis in that the plaintiff can improve and can be rehabilitated to return to his pre-accident employment status. The defence argues that it is probable, although not certain, that Mr. Gill will return to longshoreman’s work.

[53]         The expert opinions are not optimistic about Mr. Gill’s recovery or his return to work. Though the most recent residential treatment program demonstrates some glimmer of hope, it is just that. It is reasonable that Dr. Tarzwell acknowledges Mr. Gill may get better, but he does not suggest that it is likely. That evidence does not meet the balance of probabilities standard.

[56]         Mr. Gill’s physical symptoms have been secondary to his psychological injuries. The psychological injuries have had a devastating impact on every aspect of his life. He was a happy, healthy, ambitious person. He was involved in a loving marriage and had close relationships with both his children. He was pursuing a job that he loved. He enjoyed socializing, he was concerned about his appearance, and he was physically active. His future was bright. That is no longer the case. Mr. Gill is a shadow of his former self. His interaction with his friends and family is non‑existent. The effect of these injuries on his day-to-day functioning is profound. Some of his family, friends, and the experts described that Mr. Gill is unable to even engage in basic health self-care and personal hygiene.

[57]         Mr. Gill has suicidal ideation that manifested itself in his attempt to take his own life in January 2018.

[58]         I have reviewed the authorities provided by the parties. I find the decision of Felix v. Hearne, 2011 BCSC 1236 to be apposite. In that case, the plaintiff suffered from the combined effects of physical injuries along with a “pervasive emotional disorder” that was “devastating to [her] personal and vocational life” (at para. 47). The court found that the plaintiff was no longer self-reliant and could not engage in her pre-accident activities or social life. Non-pecuniary damages were assessed at $200,000.

[59]         I have taken a global approach to non-pecuniary damages and consolidate both Mr. Gill’s physical and psychological injuries in assessing Mr. Gill’s non‑pecuniary damages at $200,000.

$170,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Hip Injury, PTSD, TOS and Chronic Pain

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a plaintiff who suffered a host of injuries in a vehicle collision.
In today’s case (Firman v. Asadi) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2013 collision.  The Defendant denied fault but was found liable at trial.  The collision resulted in multiple injuries including a torn labrum, thoracic outlet syndrome, PTSD and chronic pain.  Prognosis for full recovery was poor.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $170,000 Mr. Justice Verhoeven provided the following reasons:

[145]     Based upon the abundant medical evidence as well as the evidence of the plaintiff and other evidence of the lay witnesses, I find that the plaintiff’s injuries that she attributes to the MVA and as reported to the treatment providers and medical experts were caused by the MVA.

[146]     As noted, there is much overlap in the specific diagnoses found in the medical evidence.  In more general terms, the plaintiff’s injuries sustained in the MVA are: (1) left hip injury, including torn labrum, requiring surgery;  (2) TOS or thoracic outlet syndrome, requiring surgery, and with further surgery recommended; (3) whiplash injuries (myofascial pain syndrome, mechanical spine pain) and resultant chronic pain, particularly in her upper back, left shoulder, and arm; (4) left shoulder tendinopathy; (5) chronic headaches; (6) mood or psychological/psychiatric disorders, including depression, somatic symptom disorder, and anxiety.

[147]     The defendants dispute the diagnosis of PTSD, made by Dr. Schweighofer. Dr. Iso noted PTSD “symptoms”.  In the circumstances of this case, the question of whether the plaintiff fully meets the criteria for this diagnosis is of little practical consequence. Dr. Waraich noted that her symptoms meet the DSM-5 criteria for PTSD, with one exception. He states that, while a diagnosis of delayed onset PTSD could be made, in his view her PTSD symptoms are “better accounted for” by the diagnoses that he makes: depressive disorder, and somatic symptom disorder. However, he added:

…in my opinion, her future course and potential treatment of PTSD symptoms are relevant despite her not meeting full criteria for PTSD in my assessment.

[148]     The prognosis for substantial improvement is poor…

[218]     The evidence discloses that the plaintiff has suffered a very substantial non-pecuniary loss.  She is now only marginally able to continue with her former occupations, and passions in life, fitness training and barbering. Her physical and psychological injuries as outlined previously are substantial, and likely permanent to a large extent at least.  She has endured a great deal of pain and suffering, which will continue indefinitely. She has undergone two surgeries and a third surgery is likely, since it is recommended and the plaintiff says she plans to undergo it.

[219]     Her injuries and their consequences have quite dramatically affected her former lifestyle and her personality. She was previously very physically active. She participated in marathon runs and triathlons, operated a fitness business, and engaged in a number of sporting activities. She was independent and took pride in being able to support herself and her younger daughter, who continues to be a dependant. I referred earlier to the change in her personality noted by the witnesses. She is no longer outgoing, social, energetic and happy, as she was before.

[220]     Her homemaking capacity has been impacted. She testified that pre-accident she kept a tidy household. This is corroborated by Mr. MacDonald and her daughter. She no longer has the ability to maintain a tidy household. Now her house is messy.

[221]     On the other hand, she is far from completely debilitated, and there is a chance her condition will improve, with appropriate treatment.  Her pre-accident condition was not perfect, (in particular, she had symptomatic spinal degeneration, and headaches) and there was some risk that her conditions could have affected her detrimentally in future, as they had pre-accident.  They might have worsened.  …

[231]     Having regard to the case authorities I have referred to, I assess the plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $170,000.

$125,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for "Complex" Psychological Injuries With Pain

Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for the victim of a hit and run collision.
In today’s case (Crozier v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2013 collision caused by an unidentified motorist.  ICBC admitted statutory liability for the crash.  The Plaintiff suffered both physical and psychiatric injuries which were partially disabling and had a poor prognosis for full recovery.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $125,000 Mr. Justice Saunders provided the following reasons:

[99]         The physical and psychological injuries Ms. Eros suffered include pain in the neck, back, shoulders, rib and chest; headache; dizziness and nausea; post-traumatic stress disorder, together with symptoms of depression and anxiety; fatigue, and problems with concentration and memory, either as a result of a mild traumatic brain injury (not confirmed through neuropsychological testing), or a combination of the physical and psychological/psychiatric injuries. Ms. Eros suffers from some residual headache and rib and chest pain. Fatigue remains a concern. She has significant chronic pain in the thoracic spine, and her psychological injuries continue. She is significantly disabled from working fully in her chosen field of massage therapy, and from engaging in physical labour of the type she did with SCRD. Her physical activity is limited. She can only do light housework.

[100]     I also consider the following factors as particularly influential in the damages award. Ms. Eros avoids driving where possible. She is not the joyful, outgoing person she used to be. Her self-identity as a strong and fearless person is gone. She lost the chance of pursuing her relationship with Mr. Johnson. Her relationship with her mother deteriorated after the accident. She is more socially isolated.

[101]     The defendant’s suggested range of $60,000 to $80,000 for Ms. Eros’ non-pecuniary damages, and the case law submitted in support of an assessment in that range, are premised on the substantial improvement of Ms. Eros’ physical injuries within 12 months of the accident, and of the psychological injuries within 18 months. The defendant’s submissions do not come close to acknowledging the devastating psychological effects of the accident, the continuing functional limitations imposed by the plaintiff’s pain, and the complex interrelationship of the pain condition and the post-traumatic stress disorder…

[104]     I find an appropriate award of non-pecuniary damages is $125,000.

$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic PTSD and Post Concussive Issues

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic issues following a concussive injury.
In today’s case (Curtiss v. The Corporation of the District of West Vancouver) the Plaintiff fell into an open meter box on a sidewalk owned by the Defendant.  The Defendant denied liability but was found negligent at trial.  The fall resulted in a concussive injury with post concussive difficulties and PTSD.  The Plaintiff was expected to have lingering symptoms into the future.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 Mr. Justice Marchand provided the following reasons:

[92]         As a result of her fall, Ms. Curtiss suffered cuts, scrapes and/or bruising to various parts of her body, including her forehead, nose, upper lip, hands, lower legs and left inner thigh. She also experienced balance issues, dizziness and headaches.   Ms. Curtiss’ cuts, scrapes and bruises all healed within the first one to three months.  Her throbbing headaches lasted the better part of a year, and she still gets headaches when she experiences high levels of stress. She still has occasional balance problems.

[93]         Ms. Curtiss has received psychological counselling and acupuncture treatments since her fall and her condition has improved over time. She has recently returned to daily walking and working in her garden. Nevertheless, her self-reports, and the reports of those who are close to her, clearly establish that Ms. Curtiss is not the same person she was prior to her fall. She has trouble sleeping. She has become anxious and forgetful. She is less confident and self-sufficient. She is no longer able to multi-task. She is less active, occasionally walks with a cane, looks down during walks and gardens far less.

[94]         Two family physicians were involved in Ms. Curtiss’ post-accident care, Drs. Dean Brown and Brian Brodie. Based on her loss of consciousness, memory loss, headaches, dizziness, imbalance, agitation and anxiety, both diagnosed Ms. Curtiss as having suffered a concussion as a result of her fall. In his April 7, 2017 report, Dr. Brown’s prognosis was that Ms. Curtiss’ symptoms would gradually improve with a full resolution within a year or so. In his September 8, 2017 report, Dr. Brodie’s prognosis was that Ms. Curtiss was highly likely to “go on to suffer some symptoms of post traumatic disorder”.

[95]         Ms. Curtiss also submitted a report dated August 25, 2017 prepared by Registered Psychologist, Dr. William Koch. As a result of Ms. Curtiss’ vigilance to danger when walking or driving, excessive startle response, avoidance of conversations about her fall, disturbed sleep, and anxiety-related concentration deficits, Dr. Koch has concluded it is probable that Ms. Curtiss suffers a “subsyndromal” Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). Dr. Koch noted a number of positive and negative prognostic indicators in Ms. Curtiss’ case. He concluded that Ms. Curtiss’ prognosis for further improvement is “negative” unless she receives further psychological treatment. Dr. Koch recommended a further 20 hours of therapy, which Ms. Curtiss had started by the time of trial.

[96]         In cross-examination, Dr. Koch agreed with a list of further positive prognostic indicators put to him by counsel for the District. Specifically, Dr. Koch agreed that the following were positive prognostic indicators: Ms. Curtiss was open to treatment; Ms. Curtiss had returned to treatment; Ms. Curtiss reported benefitting from treatment; Ms. Curtiss had returned to daily walking; and Ms. Curtiss would soon no longer be involved in litigation. On the last point, Dr. Koch indicated that while litigation stress may soon stop, “other stressors may pop up.”

[97]         Based on all of the evidence, I accept that Ms. Curtiss’ life has been significantly adversely affected by her fall. Though her cuts, scrapes and bruises healed relatively quickly, her post-concussion symptoms and subsyndromal PTSD have persisted. While I have optimism for further improvement, given the length of time her symptoms have persisted, the efforts she has already put into her recovery and her age, I doubt that Ms. Curtiss will ever fully return to her pre-accident condition…

[109]     The cases cited by counsel support an award of non-pecuniary damages within the range suggested by Ms. Curtiss of $75,000 to $90,000. In my view, an award of $85,000 will adequately compensate Ms. Curtiss for the profound impact her fall has had on her physical and emotional wellbeing. Before her fall, Ms. Curtiss was an exceptionally happy, active and productive 74-year-old woman. The accident, however, caused a significant decline in her performance at work, her level of activity, her confidence in herself, and the joy in her life. As I have stated, in my view, though Ms. Curtiss will continue to make improvements, she will not fully return to her pre-accident condition.

$110,000 Non Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Pain and Major Depressive Disorder

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic injuries sustained in three separate collisions.
In today’s case (Parhar v. Clarke) the Plaintiff was injured in three collisions that the Defendants accepted blame for.  She suffered chronic physical and psychological injuries as a result including thoracic outlet syndrome, chronic pain,  major depression and anxiety.  Her prognosis for further improvement was guarded.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $110,000 Mr. Justice Pearlman provided the following reasons:

[215]     Ms. Parhar was 27 years old at the time of the first accident and 35 at the time of trial.

[216]     The injuries she suffered in the accidents include injuries to the muscles of her neck, shoulder girdle and back with attendant muscle spasm, low back pain, thoracic outlet syndrome, persistent headaches, TMJ pain and dysfunction and soft tissue injuries to her knees and right hip.

[217]     In addition, as a result of the defendants’ negligence, the plaintiff sustained a chronic pain disorder, a major depressive disorder, a generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD.

[218]     Although there has been some improvement in the plaintiff’s condition, Ms. Parhar’s prognosis is guarded in light of the persistence of her symptoms of pain and her psychological conditions.

[219]     Further psychological counselling would assist Ms. Parhar in coping with chronic pain and managing the functions of daily living. Exercise and conditioning will probably produce further improvements to her symptoms of neck, shoulder and back pain, and may also alleviate her headaches. However, after eight years of chronic pain, it is unlikely the plaintiff will make a full recovery and probable that she will experience flares of her back and neck pain, anxiety and depressive moods indefinitely.

[227]     Taking into account the Stapley v. Hejslet factors, all of the authorities cited by counsel, the risk that the plaintiff would have suffered a recurrence of depression in any event of the accidents, and all of Ms. Parhar’s particular circumstances, I would assess her damages for pain and suffering and loss of amenities and enjoyment of life in the amount of $110,000…

$100,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic PTSD

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for post traumatic stress disorder as a result of a vehicle collision.
In today’s case, (Harmati v. Williams) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2011 rear end collision that the Defendant accepted fault for.  She suffered PTSD and a generalized anxiety disorder following the crash and the Court accepted these conditions were caused by the collision.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $100,000 Madam Justice Choi provided the following reasons:
[48]         Dr. O’Shaughnessy was steadfast in his opinion when he testified that Ms. Harmati’s PTSD was as a result of the accident. He wavered on cross examination that the generalized anxiety was a result of the accident. I accept Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s testimony and diagnosis and found him to be a forthright and helpful expert witness…

[70]         On a balance of probabilities, I find that Ms. Harmati’s present disability, both physical and psychological, is a result of the accident. I accept Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s opinion that the PTSD was triggered by the accident, and I am satisfied that there is a substantial connection between the injuries Ms. Harmati suffered in this accident and her present symptoms sufficient to impose liability on the Defendants. Just as the Defendants are liable for any physical injuries caused to Ms. Harmati, they are too liable for any psychological injuries that arose from this accident.

[71]         I find that but for the accident, Ms. Harmati would not have suffered from pain in the neck, head and back or post-traumatic stress disorder. While Ms. Harmati may have had a more extreme reaction to the accident than most, she is better described as a “thin skull” than a crumbling one. The injuries she has suffered were not inherent in her original position and would not have occurred had the accident not happened…

[81]         A few lay witnesses testified as to Ms. Harmati’s ongoing limitations.

[82]         Mr. Gosling testified that Ms. Harmati is responsible for most of the cleaning, but that they don’t keep a clean house, and that Ms. Harmati is responsible for most of the cooking. She does more now than she did when they first cohabited because she is no longer working. I found Mr. Gosling a measured and careful witness, whose evidence I found credible.

[83]         Mr. Gosling testified that Ms. Harmati does not want to be a burden, so she will insist on performing tasks that then require her to rest, such as carrying groceries and pots of boiling water.

[84]         Mr. Derek Carswell worked with Ms. Harmati at Electronics Art. They were both hired on the same day in 2010 and became friends. Prior to the accident, he described her as “bubbly, enthusiastic and lots of energy”. After the energy, he testified that she was “subdued, lacking vital energy”. He said they played video games with their respective partners and that after the accident, she could not play video games for long because she needed to rest and due to nausea. Mr. Carswell testified that some video games are virtual reality games, involving wearing a headset and a screen which wraps around your face, and is an immersive gaming experience. Ms. Harmati has been unable to participate in this type of game since the accident…

[88]         Having considered the evidence and cases, it is my view that an award of non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $100,000 is appropriate.

$265,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder

In what is one of the highest non-pecuniary awards in Canadian history for psychiatric injuries, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing non-pecuniary damages of $265,000 for psychological injuries stemming from a collision.
In last week’s case (Hans v. Volvo Trucks North America Inc) the Plaintiff was operating a fully-loaded tractor trailer when, without warning, all electrical power failed and the vehicle started to jack-knife.  The trailer struck the cab of the truck and forced the vehicle off the road.
The Court found that the vehicle manufacturer was responsible for the collision because “Volvo was negligent in the installation of the hardware that was supplied by Norgren on the cab positive terminal of the Truck, and that the total loss of electrical power resulted from that negligent installation.
The Plaintiff, while not suffering significant physical injuries, sustained profound psychological consequences including PTSD and a major depressive disorder secondary to this.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $265,000 Mr. Justice Davies provided the following reasons:

[479]     Mr. Hans’ injuries were life altering in every respect.

[480]     The evidence of not only Mrs. Hans but also that of Mr. Hans’ daughter and his many friends who testified establishes that before the collision Mr. Hans was a gregarious, fun-loving, competitive, hard-working, ambitious and financially driven young man with boundless energy.

[481]     Although he had gained weight as a truck driver he was still a man with great strength and athletic ability resulting in a prodigious capacity for hard labour which he immensely enjoyed. His one-time employer Ron Collick described Mr. Hans as “a jolly giant”.

[482]     Mr. Hans lived a socially and emotionally rewarding life often centered on work but also often involving his family, his friends of many years and his love of travel which he shared with Mrs. Hans and their children both in North America and in India.

[483]     Mr. Hans shared a loving partnership with his wife as her husband, business partner, and as a father to their children.  He was a full participant with Mrs. Hans in all aspects of their children’s lives and in household responsibilities.

[484]     Mr. Hans was a proud man with a taste for good clothing who cared for his appearance. Socially he was often the center of attention – while dancing or even while playing with children.

[485]     Over the seven years since the collision all of that has changed drastically because of PTSD accompanied by Mr. Hans’ suffering from a Major Depressive Disorder that arose as a consequence of PTSD.

[486]     Mr. Hans is now emotionally and socially a shell of his former self.

[487]     His gregariousness has been replaced by isolation and withdrawal from contact with friends and family.

[488]     His love of fun has been replaced by depression, agitation and volatile bursts of anger. 

[489]     Competitiveness has been replaced by lethargy.

[490]     Ambition has turned to resentment and the blaming of those he believes have ruined his life.

[491]     Where he once ran and played sports he now walks aimlessly. Dr. Thinda reported that Mr. Hans has a slow gait due to psychomotor retardation or the effects of the medication he is prescribed for his psychiatric symptoms.

[492]     Mr. Hans’ capacity for and love of hard work have been replaced by indolence and despair.

[493]     He neglects his personal hygiene and cares little for his appearance. He is irritable and has significant problems with concentration and memory. He suffers from nightmares, sleeplessness and bad eating habits.

[494]     He has little interest in his children and must be coaxed to attend their activities. When he does, he is often uncomfortable, disinterested or both.

[495]     Mr. Hans is no longer active in the partnership that he and Mrs. Hans forged during the years of their marriage before the collision. He does not share in responsibility or workload but rather requires supervision and care.

[496]     He has attempted suicide three times each of which has seen him hospitalized for extended periods.

[497]     His life is now ruled by pharmaceutical intervention to attempt to overcome the symptoms of PTSD and Major Depression which dominate his existence. Without that medication his existence is further threatened.

[498]     Mr. Hans faces a future of continued pharmaceutical and psychiatric intervention as well as close supervision as his treating medical professionals, family and friends attempt to preclude the active manifestation of his suicidal ideation.

[499]     While it is a positive sign that Mr. Hans has not attempted suicide for more than 5 years since his last attempt, that must be measured against the medical intervention and supervision that has been necessary to attain that modest success.

[500]     Mr. Hans’ self-loathing and despair were starkly evidenced by his testimony at trial as well as by his anger and resentment at those whom he holds responsible for the loss of his capacity to care and provide for his family and enjoy life as he once did.

[501]     The totality of the medical evidence establishes that there is little prospect that Mr. Hans will ever recover socially, emotionally or mentally from the effects of the collision.

[502]     The prognosis for real progress after almost seven years of the debilitating effects of PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder from which Mr. Hans suffers is guarded at best and bleak at worst…

[528]     Considering that factor together with all of the other factors enumerated in Stapley to which I have alluded I have concluded that the appropriate award for Mr. Hans’ past and future pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life is $265,000.

 

$120,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic PTSD and Soft Tissue Injuries

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic soft tissue injuries and post traumatic stress disorder caused by two motor vehicle collisions.
In today’s case (Luis v. Marchiori) the Plaintiff was involved in two collisions, the first in 2008 and the second in 2011.  ICBC admitted fault for both defendants. The Plaintiff sustained chronic injuries and in valuing non-pecuniary damages at $120,000 Madam Justice Gray provided the following reasons:

[178]     I would summarize the significant factors as follows:

a)    Ms. Luis is 49 years old;

b)    In the accidents, Ms. Luis suffered predominantly soft-tissue injuries which have led to painful shoulder surgery, chronic disabling pain in her neck and right shoulder and lower back, moderate to severe major depression, PTSD, and significant weakness in her dominant right hand;

c)     Ms. Luis’s pain has been severe, particularly since the Second Accident, and it is unlikely that her pain or depression or PTSD or right hand weakness will resolve;

d)    As a result of the accidents, Ms. Luis is completely disabled from working and driving and is significantly disabled from personal care, home care, and personal activities; and

e)    Ms. Luis has suffered from the loss of her sense of well-being, the impairment of her relationships with her husband and children, and the loss of the social connections from work.

[179]     No two cases are alike. I have considered the cases cited by both counsel and Ms. Luis’s particular circumstances.

[180]     Ms. Luis is entitled to $120,000 for non-pecuniary damages.

 

$50,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Lingering PTSD Following Collision

Adding to this site’s archived posts addressing damages for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing such an injury.
In this week’s case (Field v. Bains) the Plaintiff was 7 year old when her vehicle was struck by a semi trailer and dragged along the highway. She suffered from PTSD which had some lingering symptoms by the time of trial some 10 years later.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $50,000 Madam Justice Duncan provided the following reasons:
[44]         Rebecca was a seven-year-old child when she was involved in a frightening car accident with her mother. She suffered from recurrent nightmares about the accident for approximately a year and intermittent nightmares for some time after. She would not get in a car for a number of months after the accident. When she finally did she was hypervigilant, on the lookout for large trucks. The sight of a large truck near the family car caused her to go into a severe anxiety phase. She would curl up in a ball in the back of the car and obsessively talk about the truck. Rebecca also had a fear of loud noises from buses and trucks, which at its most severe caused her to run and hide or avoid taking the school bus for outings with her classmates. She never returned to ballet classes.
[45]         Rebecca is now a mature and well-spoken 17-year-old. She has worked very hard to overcome the effects of the accident by seeking out counselling and successfully integrating coping techniques into her daily life.
[46]         I accept the opinions of Dr. Weiss and Dr. Kaushansky that the plaintiff developed PTSD as a result of the accident. I accept their opinions that Rebecca’s fear of large trucks spilled over into a generalized anxiety about a number of different things. While it appears Rebecca has recovered from the psychological effects of the accident, the PTSD and anxiety are in remission rather than completely eradicated.
[47]         As for the plaintiff’s prognosis, I prefer Dr. Kaushanky’s opinion over that of Dr. Weiss. Dr. Kaushansky was of the view that Rebecca would live quite a normal life but be significantly more affected by life stressors than other people. He described it as a waxing and waning effect which would necessitate periodic visits with a counsellor. This appears to have been the case, as Rebecca sought out assistance from Ms. Hildebrandt when her stress and anxiety levels over the accident as well as family matters became too much for her to deal with on her own. Ms. Hildebrandt’s intervention appears to have been successful in assisting Rebecca with an abatement of her anxiety.
[48]         Dr. Weiss’s prognosis that the plaintiff would have marked functional impairment in her life as a result of the PTSD has not, in my view, come to fruition. Rebecca has managed to attain her driver’s licence despite the frightening after-effects of the accident. She graduated from high school, has a positive group of friends and has realistic ambitions for future career paths which she will further investigate after a year off…
[55]         Taking into account the findings of fact in this case, the factors in Stapley, and the comparable authorities involving children with PTSD, I award the plaintiff $50,000 in non-pecuniary damages.

"It is Not for the Tortfeasor" To Dictate Timelines for a Plaintiff's Retirement

Interesting reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing mitigation of damages in a personal injury claim seeking compensation for reduced pension benefits.
In this week’s case (Wangert v. Saur) the Defendant died when his vehicle collided with a train operated by the Plaintiff.  The Plaintiff suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and missed some time from work.  The Plaintiff retired in 2012 and sought damages for a reduced pension arguing that had he not been psychologically injured by the collision he would have worked more hours thereby having greater pensionable earnings.
The Defendant argued that since, at the time of the Plaintiff’s retirement at age 55, he was able to work full time and had no residual difficulty from the Accident he failed to mitigate his damages by not working past his otherwise planned retirement in order to earn a greater pension.  Mr. Justice Abrioux rejected this argument providing the following reasons:
[34]         In this case, I accept the plaintiff’s evidence that he had always planned to retire at the age of 55. He had spent many years working for CP Rail.
[35]         The defendant did not cite any legal authority supporting his position that a plaintiff could have mitigated losses by working past his or her planned retirement age. I was also unable to find any.
[36]         In my view, planning for retirement is a very important stage in a person’s life. When one has the opportunity to retire at a certain age, even though continuing to work remains available, the decision to retire is not entered into lightly. It is not for the tortfeasor to take the position that the plaintiff‘s failure to change his life plan due to an accident which occurred through no fault of his own, amounts to unreasonable conduct.

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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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