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Tag: Complicated Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

$160,000 Non-Pecunairy Assessment for a "Complicated MTBI with Residual Symptoms"

Adding to this site’s archives addressing non-pecuniary assessments for traumatic brain injury, reasons for judgement were released today addressing a “complicated MTBI with residual symptoms“.
In today’s case (Matromonaco v. Moraal) the Plaintiff pedestrian was standing on a sidewalk waiting to cross a street when the Defendant ran a red light, lost control of his vehicle, drove onto the sidewalk and struck the Plaintiff.  The Defendant was soley responsible for the crash.  The Plaintiff suffered a variety of soft tissue injuries that fully healed.  She also suffered a mild brain injury which caused continuing symptoms at the time of trial.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $160,000 Mr. Justice Harvey provided the following reasons:

[210]     The Plaintiff suffered a number of physical injuries which I characterize as soft tissue injuries. All healed uneventfully within a reasonably short period of time after suitable treatment by way of physiotherapy and exercise.

[211]     Her most significant injury by far is the MTBI.

[212]     I accept that this injury has caused the Plaintiff mild cognitive impairment in processing, which in turn has impacted memory, mood concentration and focus. The result, not surprisingly, is that the Plaintiff exhibits signs of depression and social isolation.

[213]     Counsel for the Plaintiff referred me to a number of authorities involving plaintiffs with injuries similar to Ms. Mastromonaco, suggesting an appropriate range for non-pecuniary damages is $150,000 to $200,000.

[214]     Specifically, I have been referred to and considered Curtis v. MacFarlane, 2014 BCSC 1138; Watkins v. Dormuth, 2014 BCSC 543 [Watkins]; Danicek v. Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang, 2010 BCSC 1111;Harrington v. Sangha, 2011 BCSC 1035 [Harrington]; Sirna v. Smolinski, 2007 BCSC 967; and Dikey v. Samieian, 2008 BCSC 604 [Dikey].

[215]     No two cases are alike. At one end of the extreme is the decision in Dikey, where the plaintiff suffered profound cognitive deficit requiring that he have daily assistance with his living requirements for the rest of his life. He also suffered significant ongoing pain. Similar findings were made in Harrington.

[216]     In terms of similarities, the Plaintiff’s present condition, attributable to the aftereffects of the accident, are as follows: irritability, anxiety brought about by stress, poor memory, concentration, distractibility, fatigue and general low mood.

[217]     While not so severe as the 32-year-old plaintiff in Watkins, the case is similar, such that it provides a useful starting point for the analysis. In Watkins, Blok J. awarded general damages of $175,000.

[218]     Unlike the plaintiff in Watkins, the Plaintiff here is not experiencing ongoing headache, problems with balance or noise intolerance. I also take into account the difference in the plaintiff’s respective ages, as Ms. Watkins was 27 years old at the time of she was injured in a car accident. Accordingly, I assess the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary loss at $160,000.

$200,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment for "Complicated" Traumatic Brain Injury

Reasons for judgement were released last month by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing global damages at $836,000 for injuries and loss flowing from a motor vehicle collision.
In last month’s case (Gilbert v. Bottle) the Plaintiff was a passenger in the Defendant’s vehicle.  His careless driving caused the vehicle to lose control ejecting the Plaintiff from the vehicle.  She sustained numerous physical injuries the most significant of which was described as a ‘complicated‘ traumatic brain injury.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $200,000 Madam Justice Dickson made the following findings:
190] I conclude that Ms. Gilbert suffered a complicated mild traumatic brain injury with significant and permanent sequelae as a result of the accident…
[191] I also conclude that the change in Ms. Gilbert’s substance abuse pattern is substantially connected to her brain injury symptoms.  Dulling physical and emotional pain with crack cocaine shows markedly poor judgment and poor self-control.  Ms. Gilbert’s already inadequate functioning in these areas has been further compromised by her injuries.  In consequence, her substance abuse problem has altered in a significantly negative way…
[195] I further conclude that Ms. Gilbert suffers from chronic pain disorder as a result of the accident.  The pain includes frequent neck, shoulder and back pain, together with cervicogenic headaches which originate from soft tissue injuries to her neck.  I am satisfied that her pain is genuine in the sense that it is not feigned or goal-directed, although it has a significant psychological, as well as physical, component.  In particular, Ms. Gilbert’s pre-existing emotional vulnerability and increased emotional disturbance caused by her brain injury are both substantially connected to the severity and maintenance of her ongoing pain.  The onset of the pain is a result of the accident…

[198] The extent of Ms. Gilbert’s loss due to her accident-related injuries is substantial.  She is, in my view, a thin skull plaintiff.  Before the accident, she lived a borderline existence due to her harsh environment, disorganized lifestyle and poor general health and habits.  As Dr. Travalos points out, however, she was nonetheless able to work with New Directions.  She was also able to participate in and enjoy intimate personal connections.

[199] As a result of the accident, Ms. Gilbert can no longer do either.  In effect, she has lost the two major sources of pleasure, purpose and meaning in an already difficult life.

[200] Ms. Gilbert is and will probably remain competitively unemployable due to the effects of her traumatic brain injury.  Although her post-accident functional change is more substantial than Dr. Travalos assumed, I accept his view that her injuries tipped her over the edge in a vocational sense.  I also accept that Ms. Gilbert’s quality of life may improve with appropriate support and treatment.  I am satisfied, however, that, even with support, she will probably never work for pay again…

[220] I conclude that an award of $200,000 in non-pecuniary damages is appropriate in all of the circumstances.  Ms. Gilbert’s permanent loss of capacity to work and engage emotionally with others is a great loss given their central significance in her difficult life.  In my view, Ms. Gilbert’s consequent need for solace is also great.  Nevertheless, she is entitled to compensation for only the change to her original position.  The award should not extend to her pre-existing difficulties that would have persisted or deteriorated further regardless of her injuries.  In other words, the award must be fair and reasonable to both parties.