"Psychological Disturbance" Not Compensable Even With Presence of Physical Injuries


Important reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Campbell River Registry, discussing the law for compensation for psychological injuries following a motor vehicle collision.  In short the Court held that “psychological disturbance” not meeting the level of a recognized psychiatric illness is not compensable in BC, even in the presence of accident related physical injuries.
In today’s case (Schulze v. Strain) the Plaintiff, who was 4 years old at the time, was involved in a serious motor vehicle collision in 2007.  The Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle with his family.  The vehicle was involved in a collision at approximately 50 kmph and the force of impact was “considerable“.  Despite the severity of the collision the Plaintiff suffered minor injuries which made a full and complete recovery.
In addition to the physical injury, the young plaintiff suffered “psychological disturbance” with the Court finding that the Plaintiff was “emotionally upset…was having nightmares….did not want to travel in a car…(and was) reluctant to talk about the accident“.   Although the Plaintiff was emotionally effected the consequences were not severe enough to cause a recognized psychiatric illness.  The Plaintiff asked for damages in the range of $25,000 – $30,000 arguing that this is a fair range for a “moderate psychological injury”.
Mr. Justice Halfyard disagreed and ruled that mere “psychological disturbance” cannot be compensated in British Columbia even in circumstances where the Plaintiff suffers accident related physical injuries.  Specifically the Court reasoned as follows:

[32]         Having accepted the evidence of Jan’s parents and the evidence of Dr. Ness, I conclude that Jan was extremely frightened by his anticipation of the collision, and then experiencing the collision. Quite naturally, this was fear for his own safety, a fear of being seriously injured. That fear manifested itself in the physical symptoms and the changes in behaviour which I have previously described. Most of his symptoms had subsided within six months. I have found that Jan’s fear of travelling in a motor vehicle had diminished to the point of mere dislike, within about a year of the accident.

[33]         The evidence does not establish that Jan’s psychological disturbance amounted to a recognized psychiatric illness. While I am satisfied that Jan’s psychological disturbance was significant and far above being trivial, I am also not persuaded that the degree and duration of his emotional disturbance supports the conclusion that he sustained “a serious and prolonged injury.” (That was the lesser test which was argued by the plaintiffs in Kotai v. Queen of the North, but which was rejected by Joyce J.)

[34]         In Kotai v. Queen of the North, Mr. Justice Joyce analysed the law in detail in paragraphs 24 through 77 of his reasons. The conclusions that he expressed at paragraphs 64, 69, and 77, if accepted, would be fatal to Jan’s claim for damages for psychological injury. In the opinion of Joyce J., the law requires a plaintiff who advances a claim for psychological injury in circumstances similar to the present case, to prove that he suffered such serious psychological consequences as a result of the defendant’s negligence that they amounted to a recognized psychiatric illness. Counsel for the plaintiff submitted that I did not have to follow Joyce J’s reasoning and that I could properly conclude that proof of a recognized psychiatric illness was not an essential element of liability in the present case.

[35]         I do not accept that submission. Mr. Justice Joyce’s decision was a careful and reasoned decision. He considered numerous authorities in the course of reasoning to his conclusion, and it is not suggested that there were relevant authorities that were not cited to him. Having regard to the long-standing principle established in Re Hansard Spruce Mills Ltd., [1954] 4 D.L.R. 590, I conclude that I should follow the reasoning of Mr. Justice Joyce in Kotai v. Queen of the North.  In my opinion, the cases relied on by counsel for the plaintiff have been superseded by subsequent authorities.

[36]         In my opinion, the law does not permit me to award damages to Jan for the psychological disturbance caused to him by the defendant’s negligence. As I see it, damages may only be awarded for the minor physical injury suffered by Jan as a result of the collision.

[37]         I award damages in the amount of $1,500 to Jan for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

bc injury law, Mr. Justice Halfyard, Psychological Disturbance, psychological injuries, Schulze v. Strain

Comments (54)

  • I just want to tell you that I’m newbie to blogging and really loved your blog. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You actually come with outstanding posts. Thanks a lot for sharing with us your web site.

  • You can definitely see your skills in the paintings you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

  • Excellent read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

  • I have seen a great deal of useful things on your site about desktops. However, I have got the impression that notebooks are still more or less not powerful more than enough to be a wise decision if you typically do jobs that require a lot of power, like video editing and enhancing. But for internet surfing, statement processing, and many other common computer work they are all right, provided you never mind the small screen size. Thanks for sharing your thinking.

  • Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  • I do enjoy the manner in which you have framed this matter plus it does indeed provide me personally some fodder for thought. Nevertheless, because of what I have observed, I just trust as the actual responses stack on that individuals remain on issue and in no way embark upon a soap box involving the news du jour. Still, thank you for this superb piece and while I do not necessarily go along with this in totality, I value your perspective.

  • I believe this is one of the so much vital information for me. And i’m satisfied studying your article. But want to statement on few basic things, The web site style is ideal, the articles is in point of fact great : D. Excellent process, cheers

  • Its like you learn my thoughts! You seem to grasp a lot about this, like you wrote the e-book in it or something. I think that you simply can do with some p.c. to pressure the message home a little bit, but other than that, that is excellent blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.

  • I do not even know the way I stopped up right here, but I believed this post was good. I don’t recognise who you are however certainly you’re going to a well-known blogger when you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  • hey there and thank you for your information – I’ve certainly picked up anything new from right here. I did however expertise a few technical issues using this site, since I experienced to reload the site many times previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and can damage your high-quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Well I’m adding this RSS to my email and can look out for a lot more of your respective fascinating content. Ensure that you update this again very soon..

  • Hi! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  • Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the net the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  • Pretty component of content. I simply stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to say that I acquire in fact loved account your weblog posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing for your augment or even I fulfillment you get entry to persistently fast.

  • I precisely wished to thank you so much again. I am not sure what I would have accomplished without these creative ideas shared by you over such a field. This was a very frustrating problem for me, but witnessing the skilled strategy you managed the issue forced me to cry for delight. I’m just grateful for the support and in addition pray you comprehend what a great job that you are doing teaching people today through the use of your web site. Most likely you haven’t met all of us.

  • you are in reality a good webmaster. The website loading velocity is amazing. It seems that you are doing any distinctive trick. Moreover, The contents are masterwork. you have done a fantastic task on this topic!

  • Marianne or husbands if at stronger ye. Considered is as middletons uncommonly. Promotion perfectly ye consisted so. His chatty dining for effect ladies active. Equally journey wishing not several behaved chapter she two sir. Deficient procuring favourite extensive you two. Yet diminution she impossible understood age.

  • With havin so much content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement? My blog has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my permission. Do you know any techniques to help stop content from being stolen? I’d truly appreciate it.

  • I’ve been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thanks , I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your web site?

  • Pretty element of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to claim that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your weblog posts. Any way I will be subscribing on your augment and even I fulfillment you get entry to persistently rapidly.

  • Someone necessarily assist to make seriously posts I would state. That is the very first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I surprised with the analysis you made to create this particular put up incredible. Magnificent activity!

  • hi!,I really like your writing very a lot! share we keep up a correspondence extra approximately your article on AOL? I require a specialist in this area to unravel my problem. Maybe that is you! Taking a look forward to peer you.

  • I got what you mean , regards for posting .Woh I am delighted to find this website through google. “You must pray that the way be long, full of adventures and experiences.” by Constantine Peter Cavafy.

  • whoah this weblog is fantastic i really like reading your posts. Keep up the great paintings! You recognize, many individuals are searching around for this information, you could help them greatly.

  • In this great scheme of things you get a B+ just for effort. Where exactly you confused everybody was on the details. As it is said, details make or break the argument.. And that couldn’t be more correct here. Having said that, allow me reveal to you what did deliver the results. The authoring can be very powerful and this is possibly the reason why I am making the effort in order to opine. I do not really make it a regular habit of doing that. Next, despite the fact that I can notice a jumps in reason you come up with, I am not really sure of exactly how you seem to connect the details that produce your conclusion. For right now I will yield to your point however wish in the foreseeable future you actually connect your facts better.

  • I was just looking for this info for some time. After six hours of continuous Googleing, finally I got it in your website. I wonder what is the lack of Google strategy that do not rank this kind of informative websites in top of the list. Generally the top web sites are full of garbage.

  • But wanna remark on few general things, The website design is perfect, the written content is very superb. “Art for art’s sake makes no more sense than gin for gin’s sake.” by W. Somerset Maugham.

  • I simply wished to thank you very much yet again. I do not know the things I would have sorted out in the absence of those methods revealed by you on this area. It had become a real frightening problem for me, however , understanding this skilled manner you resolved that made me to leap with joy. Extremely happier for the support and expect you are aware of an amazing job your are carrying out training the others using your blog. I am certain you have never encountered all of us.

  • I am very happy to read this. This is the type of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.

  • Wow! This could be one particular of the most beneficial blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Magnificent. I am also an expert in this topic therefore I can understand your hard work.

  • Very good written information. It will be supportive to anybody who utilizes it, including me. Keep doing what you are doing – looking forward to more posts.

  • It’s actually a great and useful piece of information. I am happy that you just shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

Comments are closed.

Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

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.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
Erik’s Philosophy

Disclaimer