$95,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Chronic Pain From 2 MVA's
Reasons for judgement were released yesterday dealing with an appropriate award of damages for soft tissue injuries and chronic pain lasting for over 6 years.
In yesterday’s case (Gosal v. Singh) the Plaintiff was involved in 2 BC Car Crashes. The first in 2003, the second in 2005. The first crash was a rear end collision. Fault was admitted. As the Plaintiff was recovering from her injuries from the first collision she was involved in the second collision.
The second crash happened when the Defendant, who was parked, pulled out in front of the Plaintiff’s lane of travel. Fault was not admitted but Madam Justice Loo held that the defendant was 100% at fault finding that he “moved his vehicle from a parked position without first determining that he could do so safely, and that (the Plaintiff) had no opportunity to avoid the collision.”
The Plaintiff suffered from various soft tissue injuries and chronic pain which lasted for over 6 years and still bothered the Plaintiff by the time of trial. In valuing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $95,000 Madam Justice Loo made the following findings:
 Ms. Gosal suffered mild to moderate soft tissue injuries to her neck, upper back, shoulders, and mid and lower back, which caused severe headaches. She was treated with physiotherapy, massage, and chiropractic treatments, but her recovery took longer because of her depression and anxiety. She was recovering when the second accident exacerbated her injuries, including her depression and anxiety.
 Dr. Khunkhun states that Ms. Gosal’s long-term prognosis is guarded because her symptoms have not resolved after such a long period of time since the accidents. She does not consider Ms. Gosal to be at an increased risk of any long-term sequelae such as osteoarthritis. She believes Ms. Gosal would continue to benefit from body conditioning and strengthening exercises. She observed that in the past Ms. Gosal benefitted from regular exercise and when she stops exercising regularly, her mood deteriorates and her pain increases.
 Dr. Manchanda last saw Ms. Gosal on September 24, 2008. She told him that she had pain on about four or five days a week, and no pain on about two days a week. She was still looking for employment in counselling. At that time, Dr. Manchanda felt that Ms. Gosal could work in a job that was sedentary or involved light physical duties. He also felt that Ms. Gosal could complete the majority of her household chores, but that she might require a break or assistance with the heavier chores, such as vacuuming or carrying heavy laundry.
 Dr. Manchanda’s prognosis has thus far proved to be accurate. Ms. Gosal has worked full-time since October 6, 2008 in a job that is fairly sedentary and involves only light physical duties. There is no evidence that she has taken time off work because of symptoms arising from the accidents…
 I prefer Dr. Sandhu’s opinion that Ms. Gosal is not seeking secondary gains. She was looking after the household and her children’s needs as best she could, and doing her best to continue with her studies. Having observed Ms. Gosal, and on all the evidence, I conclude that she is not malingering and that her complaints of pain and depression are genuine.
 She continues to improve, albeit slowly. I find that there are two to three days a week when she is not in pain. Full-time employment has assisted her both physically and emotionally. Though it is now more than six years since the first accident, and more than four years since the second accident, she still suffers from depression and pain. I anticipate that over the next few years, with a regular daily exercise program, her physical pain and depression will continue to improve but may not resolve completely.
 I find that circumstances of Ms. Gosal’s injuries are similar to those in Foran v. Nguyen, 2006 BCSC 605, 149 A.C.W.S. (3d) 419, where the award for non-pecuniary damages was $90,000, and Jackson v. Lai, 2007 BCSC 1023, 160 A.C.W.S. (3d) 276, where the award was $100,000.
 I consider an award of $95,000 for non-pecuniary damages to be appropriate.
In addition to this case’s value as a precedent for valuing non-pecuniary damages for chronic pain, this case is worth reviewing for the Court’s criticism of the expert witness called by the defense.
I’ve previously written about the duty of experts to the court and highlighted judicial criticism when experts ignore this duty. In today’s case the court made critical findings with respect to Dr. Hymie Davis, a psychiatrist who billed over $290,000 to ICBC in 2008. Specifically Madam Justice Loo found that Dr. Davis “was presenting a case for the defence rather than providing an impartial expert opinion. Dr. Davis’ argument that (the Plaintiff’s) injuries should have healed and that she is seeking secondary gains or malingering, is at odds with his article “The Whiplash Injury“.