Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court assessing damages for chronic physical and psychological injuries following a vehicle collision.
In the recent case (Verjee v. Dunbrak) the Plaintiff was involved in a rear end collision in 2009 on Vancouver’s Lion’s Gate Bridge. The Defendants admitted fault. She suffered chronic soft tissue injuries and subsequently developed psychological symptoms including depression and a somatic symptom disorder. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $150,000 Madam Justice Marzari provided the following reasons:
Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, considering whether a claim involving psychological injury was too complex for a jury trial.
In today’s case (Lee v. Averbach) the Plaintiff was involved in two collisions and sued for damages. The Defendants elected trial by jury. The Plaintiff argued given the medical evidence the claim was too complex for a jury trial. The court disagreed and dismissed the Plaintiff’s application to strike the jury notice. In doing so Master Elwood provided the following reasons:
Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for diminished housekeeping capacity for a plaintiff with ‘fastidious’ housekeeping standards.
In today’s case (Broomfield v. Lof) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2014 rear end collision. Liability was admitted. The crash resulted in a variety of injuries the most serious of which were chronic depression and somatic symptom disorder. These resulted in a period of total disability followed by the Plaintiff being able to return to work but on a reduced basis.
The Plaintiff had restrictions in her housekeeping abilities and these were medically supported. The Defendant opposed damages for diminished housekeeping capacity in part because the plaintiff admitted that “she was able to do what she wanted if she pushed through the pain“. Despite this admission the court found the evidence justified damages for diminished housekeeping capacity and awarded just over $100,000 for past and future losses. In reaching this assessment Madam Justice Young provided the following reasons:
Adding to this site’s archives of psychiatric injury assessments, reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic depression and somatic symptom disorder.
In today’s case (Broomfield v. Lof) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2014 rear end collision. The impact was “significant” and the Defendant admitted fault.
Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic pain symptoms with psychiatric overlay caused by a series of collisions.
In today’s case (Sandhu v. Bates) the Plaintiff was injured in three collisions. Fault was admitted by the Defendants. The Plaintiff suffered injuries which developed into a myofascial pain syndrome. She further developed somatic symptom disorders. Her prognosis for full recovery was guarded. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $95,000 Madam Justice Winteringham provided the following reasons:
 In summary, I make the following findings of fact respecting Mrs. Sandhu’s injuries:
a) Mrs. Sandhu sustained moderate soft tissue injuries to her neck, lower back, buttock, right hip, right ankle, and right knee in the accidents.
b) Rather than following a typical course of recovery after the accidents, Mrs. Sandhu experienced chronic low back pain affecting her buttock and pain down the right leg and associated numbness in the left buttock. Her chronic pain worsened in the first and second years following the accident and persisted at the time of trial.
c) I accept Dr. Squire’s opinion that the diagnosis for her physical injuries is most consistent with myofascial pain syndrome of the lumbopelvic area and that the intermittent exacerbations are likely episodic acute muscle spasms and the right leg pain is likely referred pain from the myofascial pain syndrome. I also accept that she continues to experience intermittent neck pain.
d) Dr. Joy, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Suhail all agree, and I find, that Mrs. Sandhu developed somatic symptom disorders. I note that though their diagnoses were not identical, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Suhail report that she meets the diagnostic criteria of somatic symptom disorder with predominant pain, following the accidents. In addition, I accept Dr. Anderson’s opinion that following the accidents, Mrs. Sandhu suffers from a generalized anxiety disorder.
e) I find that, as Mrs. Sandhu’s psychological condition deteriorated, her ability to cope with pain was poor. Dr. Suhail’s opinion, with which I agree, was that “as here pain would trigger her anxiety, her subsequent psychological problems would reduce her ability to cope with pain. Whenever she would be stressed and anxious, her back pain would increase.”
f) Dr. Joy, Dr. Anderson, Dr. Suhail, Dr. Chapman and Dr. Kashif all agree that Mrs. Sandhu suffered from anxiety after the accidents. They disagree about prognosis. I find that the first accident, and aggravated in the second and third, caused Mrs. Sandhu’s generalized anxiety disorder. The medical experts are all of the opinion that Mrs. Sandhu’s prognosis is guarded, particularly if she is unable to address her anxiety disorder. Dr. Suhail indicated some recent improvement and, with ongoing cognitive behavioral treatment, there is some reason for cautious optimism.
 I have reviewed the cases referred to by the parties. On my review of Mrs. Sandhu’s cases, as her counsel admits, the injuries suffered in some of those cases were more serious than what I have found in the present case. Similarly, I have found the cases relied on by the Defendants involved Plaintiffs with lesser injuries than those I have found in Mrs. Sandhu’s case.
 In all of the circumstances, and taking into account the authorities I have been referred to, I am satisfied that an award of $95,000 will appropriately compensate Mrs. Sandhu for her pain and suffering and loss of past and future enjoyment of life, for which the Defendants are responsible.
Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for an aggravation of a pre-existing psychiatric condition from a vehicle collision.
In today’s case (Hrnic v. Bero Investments Ltd.) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2013 collison that the Defendants accepted fault for. The crash caused both physical injury and an aggravation of a pre-existing somatic symptom disorder. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 Mr. Justice Saunders provided the following reasons:
 I find the plaintiff suffered physical injuries in the accident. I am not persuaded that the purely physical injuries were significantly disabling in respect of the plaintiff’s activities of daily living, or her employment, for more than approximately 18 months following the accident. There is no reason to believe that there is a physical, i.e. orthopaedic or neurological, cause of Ms. Hrnic’s current symptoms.
 However, I find that the plaintiff also suffered at the time of the accident from a pre-existing, but not disabling, psychiatric condition – somatic symptom disorder – that was aggravated by the accident, and which, superimposed on the actual physical injuries she did temporarily suffer, has become functionally disabling.
 I do not find any real or substantial possibility that the pre-existing somatic symptom disorder would have become disabling, but for the subject accident. In that respect, the defendants “take the victim as they find her”, and there is no discounting of the defendants’ degree of liability on account of the plaintiff’s original position as regards the claims for loss of past and future earning capacity.
 Given the longstanding nature of the plaintiff’s disorder, and given her resistance to recommended medical treatment, I find it likely that her disability will not substantially improve up to her previously planned retirement age of 65, and beyond. There is some possibility that Ms. Hrnic may undergo some spontaneous improvement, and some possibility that she may elect some form of medical treatment that will benefit her. But these are very modest possibilities, and are properly accounted for as contingencies through very modest reductions in damages…
 I award the plaintiff non-pecuniary damages of $85,000.
Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic injuries following a vehicle collision.
In today’s case (Evans v. Keill) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2013 rear end collision that the Defendants admitted fault for. The crash caused a variety of soft tissue injuries which developed into chronic pain coupled with psychological injury. The consequences impacted her vocationally with a poor prognosis for recovery. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $110,000 Madam Justice Matthews provided the following reasons:
 I have concluded that as a result of the accident, Ms. Evans has suffered pain and a loss of enjoyment of life, which will continue into the foreseeable future and from which she is unlikely to ever fully recover.
 As a result of the injuries she sustained in the accident, Ms. Evans suffered from soft tissue injuries to her mid-back, upper back, neck and shoulder. She now has chronic pain in her neck and upper back. The pain is exacerbated by lifting and many different postures, including sitting, standing, certain neck angles and some yoga postures. It is exacerbated by physical activities where her neck or back bears weight, or involves lifting or working with her arms above a certain height. She experiences headaches and migraines. Over the course of two years after the accident the pain has gradually improved by about 60% but has plateaued at its present level. It is permanent and not likely to improve. She has been prescribed analgesics and has taken over-the-counter medications to cope with her pain.
 Before the accident, Ms. Evans’ mood was good and she enjoyed being physically active and social. She hiked several times a week, sometimes with friends, and regularly did yoga. She had a career that she enjoyed and was justifiably proud of given her eligibility for further promotion and that she achieved it without graduating high school. Her injuries rendered her unable to do her job.
 Due to the accident injuries, Ms. Evans suffered two major depressive episodes and somatic symptom disorder. She withdrew socially from her friends. She attempted suicide twice. She drank excessively.
 Overall, Ms. Evans’ life is very different from what she enjoyed prior to the accident. However, after a significant and challenging struggle, she has reworked her life into a place where she is happy.
 The most significant of the Stapley factors in this case are Ms. Evans’ age; the severity and duration of the pain; the impairment of her physical abilities; her associated loss of lifestyle; and the impairment of her relationships. Ms. Evans is relatively young. She was 34 years old at the time of the accident and she was 39 years old at trial. She faces the prospect of a lifetime of chronic pain and associated functional limitations. One of the most significant impacts of her injuries has been the impact on her ability to do her job as a produce manager, which she enjoyed and which was a source of pride…
 In summary, some of the cases cited by Ms. Evans involve other injuries, such as thoracic outlet syndrome, disc herniation or facet joint arthroplasty, on top of chronic myofascial pain and psychological injuries. Most of the defendants’ cases do not include cases where a psychological condition has been diagnosed and/or the chronic pain is not as functionally disabling as that experienced by Ms. Evans. The cases which are most similar are Stapley and Montgomery.
 Having considered the Stapley factors and all the above authorities, I assess non-pecuniary damages at $110,000.
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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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