Tag: Conversion Disorder

$105,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Major Depression and Conversion Disorder With Seizures

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Prince George Registry, assessing damages for chronic psychological injuries following a collision.
In today’s case (Chevalier v. Gray) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2014 collision.  It was a t-bone type impact and the Defendant accepted fault.
As a result of the crash the plaintiff suffered a major depressive disorder along with conversion disorder with accompanies seizures.  Prognosis for full recovery was poor and the injureis were partially disabling.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $105,000 Mr. Justice Tindale provided the following reasons:

[258]     In this case the plaintiff suffered musculoligamentous strains of the cervical spine as well as mild headaches, a mild strain of the thoracic area and a muscular strain of the lumbar spine. She also sustained a wrist injury.

[259]     The defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff to take reasonable care to avoid causing her physical and mental injuries.

[260]     The plaintiff certainly had pre-existing vulnerabilities to her mental health. Dr. Tomita however opined that the MVA was a predominant cause of both her conversion disorder and major depression. Dr. Udamaga opined that the MVA was a predominant factor that precipitated a decline in her mental health leading to a diagnosis of conversion disorder.

[261]     The evidence discloses that the plaintiff thought her vehicle was on fire when she was trying to extricate her elderly mother from the vehicle. She developed a sense of guilt about causing her mother’s injuries and ultimate death even though she was not at fault for the MVA.

[262]     Both Dr. Tomita and Dr. Udamaga testified that it was unlikely that the plaintiff would have developed conversion disorder absent the MVA.

[263]     The evidence discloses that the effects of the mental injuries to the plaintiff have been pronounced, long-lasting and debilitating.

[264]     The evidence also discloses that symptoms of the conversion disorder in the form of the plaintiff’s legs twitching regularly and for a prolonged period of time and as Mr. Chevalier described her shivering as if she was cold started shortly after the MVA. These symptoms became very pronounced in September 2014.

[265]     Taking into account all the evidence on this case the MVA was a material contributing cause to the plaintiff’s physical injuries and to her psychological injuries. The plaintiff was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident where she was physically injured and witnessed her ailing mother being injured. It is reasonably foreseeable that the plaintiff would suffer psychological injury.

[266]     But for the MVA the plaintiff would not have received the physical injuries that she did as outlined by Dr. Laidlow and would not have developed a major depressive disorder and a conversion disorder with seizures…

[270]     Taking into account the plaintiff’s condition prior to the MVA, the plaintiff’s injuries and poor prognosis, the effects that her psychological injuries have had on her personal and work life and the case authorities provided by the plaintiff an appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages is $105,000.  This takes into account the real and substantive future possibilities, both positive and negative that could impact the plaintiff’s life.  In this case, it is primarily the negative possibilities caused by her pre-existing chronic pain and intermittent mood disorders that must be accounted for.

$225,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic and Disabling Conversion Disorder

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a disabling conversion disorder following a motor vehicle collision.
In this week’s case (Best v. Thomas) the Plaintiff was operating a motorcycle when he was rear-ended by a van.  The Plaintiff suffered a spine injury at C-5 which required surgical correction.  He went on to suffer from a variety of disabling ailments.  Ultimately the Court found these were due to a conversion disorder.  The prognosis for recovery was poor.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $225,000 Madam Justice Duncan provided the following reasons:
[139]     I find on a balance of probabilities that the main cause of the plaintiff’s current condition, including the myoclonus, is conversion disorder. I come to this conclusion because of the relative rarity of propriospinal myoclonus and how it can be mistaken for psychiatric problems. The non-anatomical presentation was also persuasive. As early as Dr. Ho’s involvement, a strange kicking motion was noted, which was inconsistent with a neurological cause. Some of the plaintiff’s pain may well be as a result of the surgery on his C5/6 disc; however, the vast majority of his symptoms, in my view, are not organic or structural in cause.
[140]     Diagnosis of cause aside, what I glean from the experts is that nobody predicts anything close to a full recovery for the plaintiff. Dr. Hurwitz posited a 14% possibility of some recovery, though in light of the fact that the plaintiff has already been treated with a wide variety of anti-depressant drugs, this is a very optimistic prognosis. The other experts recommended various interventions in an effort to assist the plaintiff…
[161]     The plaintiff was almost 32 when the accident happened. The original injury was to his C5-6 disc. I find the following facts about the plaintiff’s condition have been established on a balance of probabilities.
[162]     Since the accident, the plaintiff has been in constant pain, notwithstanding an aggressive regime of pain treatment through medication and other therapies. He is disabled from competitive employment. While he can drive and walk, with some difficulty and with the assistance of a cane, he cannot engage in the activities he enjoyed before the accident. In terms of physical activity, he can do little more than walk very short distances and swim. He can no longer work at a job he enjoyed. His emotional suffering is extreme. He has given up hope of being a father and had a vasectomy as he would be unable to engage in play or chase a child. His enjoyment of sexual activity is significantly diminished as he has lost sensation in his penis during intercourse. His family and friends attest to the fact that he is not the same person as before the accident. He no longer laughs and jokes around. He is constantly fatigued. His family and two close friends remain engaged with him but his world has shrunk considerably from his pre-accident social activities and he has essentially lost a healthy, active, social lifestyle. He is not as mentally sharp as he was, whether by virtue of the injury or the associated medications he takes to manage his condition. None of the experts predicted anything remotely approaching a full recovery.
[163]     Taking into account all of the foregoing, as well as the range of cases provided by counsel, I award the plaintiff $225,000 in non-pecuniary damages.
 

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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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