Fibromyalgia Claim Fails, $6,000 Awarded for 3 Month Soft Tissue Injury

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, dealing with the connection between Fibromyalgia and a motor-vehicle collision.
In today’s case (Anderson v. Minhas) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2007 rear-end collision in Surrey, BC.  The Plaintiff was injured in this crash and she ultimately was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  She claimed this troubling condition was caused by the collision and sued for damages.  Mr. Justice Bernard ruled that the Plaintiff failed to prove that the accident was a cause of her Fibromyalgia and dismissed most of her claimed damages.
The Court found that the crash caused a whiplash injury of 3 months duration and assessed non-pecuniary damages at $6,000.  In dismissing the fibromyalgia claim and valuing non-pecuniary damages Mr. Justice Bernard provided the following reasons:

[74]         Applying, then, the “but for” test, I conclude that the evidence falls far short of proving, on a balance of probabilities, that but for the negligence of the defendant, Ms Anderson would not have developed fibromyalgia. In reaching this conclusion I take into account, inter alia, the absence of convincing medical opinion in this regard, the minor nature of the collision, the absence of credible evidence of a temporal nexus between the collision and the onset of symptoms, the reliable evidence of the plaintiff’s return to her pre-collision state within two months of the collision, the chronic and acute pre-collision health complaints of the plaintiff, and the significant hiatus in doctor visits in a critical post-collision period.

[75]         The plaintiff suffered a whiplash injury in the collision. The evidence suggests that it was most likely an exacerbation of an existing complaint. Shortly after the injury she began a course of physiotherapy. Reliable evidence in this regard shows that she responded well to treatment and was substantially recovered within six weeks. The defendant submits that the injuries, or any exacerbation of a pre-existing injury, attributable to the defendant were fully resolved within three months, at most. I agree. A generous view of the evidence establishes, at most, a three-month period to full recovery to Ms Anderson’s pre-collision state. The plaintiff’s losses must be assessed accordingly….

[78]         In assessing the non-pecuniary damages for Ms Anderson, I am unable to distinguish her losses from the ordinary sort of losses most suffer from a minor whiplash injury. I am, however, satisfied that the plaintiff was more fragile than many others would have been at the time of the collision and that, therefore, her post-collision aches and pains may well have been greater than those experienced by an otherwise strong and healthy person. I am satisfied that Ms Anderson’s life was negatively affected by the injury, or re-injury, and that during the three-month recovery period her relationships suffered to some degree, she endured some pain and discomfort, she lost some sleep, she opted out of some leisure and sport activities, and she was put to various inconveniences. For this three-month period of pain and suffering, with due regard to the cases cited, I assess her damages at $6,000. Any lost homemaking capacity in this period is subsumed into this award.

Anderson v. Minhas, bc injury law, Fibromyalgia, Mr. Justice Bernard

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ERIK
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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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