Non Pecuniary Damages Assessed in Mild and Moderate Brain Injury Claims
Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for two separate traumatic brain injury claims.
In this week’s case (Afonina v. Jansson) the Defendant lost control of his vehicle and was involved in a single vehicle collision. Two of his passengers suffered traumatic brain injuries, one mild and one moderate, which resulted in long term complications.
In assessing non-pecuniary damages of $195,000 for one Plaintiff’s permanent mild traumatic brain injury Mr. Justice Groves provided the following reasons:
 Alla suffered broken ribs, a pneumothorax, and a number of soft tissue and similar related type injuries as a result of the accident. She was hospitalized for a short period of time and it took a number of months to recover from the significant soft tissue injuries. Dr. Travlos’ report reported that her emotional health continues fluctuate and this impacts her overall functioning. Most notably, she suffered a mild traumatic brain injury which, as per Dr. Travlos’ report, will affect her for the rest of her life. ..
 Having reviewed the authorities provided by counsel for the plaintiff, I find them to be within the range of appropriate orders. The numerous cases cited suggest a range of general damages in the amount of $200,000-$225,000. A number of the plaintiffs are within eight to ten years of Alla’s age; however, the bulk of them are people who are completely non-employable, and I find that Alla has some modest residual work ability.
 In regards to those cases provided, I find Burdett v. Eidse, 2011 BCCA 191 and Young v. Anderson, 2008 BCSC 1306 most persuasive. In Burdett, the Court of Appeal upholds a non-pecuniary award of $200,000 where a 58 year old, formerly high functioning contractor suffered severe cognitive impairments including an inability to focus, sleep or multitask as a result of the mild traumatic brain injury caused by his motor vehicle accident caused mild traumatic brain injury. In Young, the court awards $200,000 where a 51 year old experienced a constellation of symptoms including a mild traumatic brain injury which rendered him unable to continue in his chosen profession.
 In addition to the pain and suffering from the broken ribs and soft tissue injuries, most of which had resolved within six months of the accident, I note that there are a number of significant long term damages which Alla will suffer as a result of the accident. Her mild traumatic brain injury is significantly disabling. She was, as noted, a trained engineer with university training in the area of finances and accounting. She now finds herself a somewhat confused and disoriented woman, someone with an inability to multi-task to any great degree. She has to put mechanisms in place to remind herself about her responsibilities. Although she still has good judgment, she lacks an ability to focus and to organize. These are matters which will plague her for the rest of her life and will make the task of working and the task of providing for one’s basic physical needs, somewhat of a challenge. Although there is only modest physical manifestations of her injuries at this stage, the fact that her brain is not functioning as it used to is considerably disabling.
 In all of the circumstances having reviewed the case authorities provided, I fix non-pecuniary loss at $195,000.
In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $300,000 for the second plaintiff who sustained a permanent moderate brain injury the Court provided the following reasons:
 Rather, I find that much of the difficulty Alissa finds herself in is as a direct result of the accident. At that time, she was rendered unconscious and suffered seizures. Alissa has sustained irreversible and permanent damage as a result of the moderate traumatic brain injury she suffered in the accident. She was young at the time of the accident and her life has been irrevocable altered in a negative way. She will not recover from the difficulties she currently has. They will plague her for her entire life. They are, to a great degree, vast and all encompassing. They affect everything she does. Absent the injuries, I have concluded that Alissa would have successfully completed some post-secondary education in her chosen field and by 2014 would have been in the work force in a full-time capacity. Although I do note that she does have some limited capacity to earn a modest amount of income, her former goals and chosen field of work are no longer open to her.
 In all these circumstances, the appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages is an award close to the rough upper limit. I have concluded that $300,000 is an appropriate assessment for non-pecuniary damages.