Over Two Million Dollars Awarded in Chronic Pain Claim
Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for loss related to chronic pain.
In last week’s case (Zen v. Readhead) the 45 year old plaintiff was injured in a 2005 motor vehicle collision. Fault for the crash was admitted by the Defendant. The Defendant’s lawyer argued that the plaintiff sustained only minor injuries submitting that the plaintiff “is an opportunist who has intentionally exaggerated his pain behavior and reporting in the hope of being rewarded significant compensation.”
The Court did not take kindly to this attack and rejected the Defendant’s submission with the following criticism “There are times when a trial judge listening to submissions about the credibility of a party is left to wonder if judge and counsel have heard the same evidence. This is such a case.”
The Court went on to award the Plaintiff damages of just over 2 Million Dollars for his accident related injuries and losses. The majority of this was related to past and future income loss. The Plaintiff was a high functioning Vancouver businessman and his losses were assessed reflecting his pre-accident income earning capacity.
Madam Justice Fenlon assessed the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $110,000. His injuries included low back and pelvic pain, headaches, a mood disorder, impaired sleep, dizziness, cognitive dysfunction, elbow pain and plantar fascitits. In arriving at this figure the Court provided the following reasons:
 Awards of damages in other cases provide a guideline only. I must apply the factors listed in Stapley to Mr. Zen’s particular case. Mr. Zen is now 45-years-old. He used to be an outgoing, charismatic athlete who weekly ran 40 kms, did the Grouse Grind, and took an active role in the lives of his daughters, all while working long days in the family business including most Saturdays. Today he is a different man. He is sleep-deprived and in chronic pain, which makes him irritable and prone to frustration and anger. He can no longer push himself athletically, which was a central part of his life and the way he managed stress. He has a diminished role in the lives of his daughters, and in particular his youngest daughter, Olivia. Mr. Zen’s relationship with his wife has been significantly affected and he has, in his words, “missed out on the best years of [his] life”.
 Taking all of this into account and excluding from this analysis the pain and inconvenience caused by his left knee before the March 2010 surgery, I find that Mr. Zen is entitled to non-pecuniary damages of $110,000.