Visual Vestibular Mismatch Leads to $90,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment

Adding to this site’s archived cases addressing visual vestibular mismatch following a vehicle collision, reasons for judgement were released today by the Supreme Court, assessing damages for such an injury.
In today’s case (Miolla v. Fick) the Plaintiff was involved in a modest 2013 rear end collision.  The Defendant admitted fault but argued that given the minor nature of the crash the Plaintiff was not injured.  The Court rejected this argument and concluded the plaintiff suffered from soft tissue injuries and a visual vestibular mismatch which caused a chronic balance problem which largely interfered with the Plaintiff’s ability to work.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $90,000 Mr. Justice Myers provided the following reasons:

[30]    Dr. Longridge concluded that Ms. Miolla suffered from vestibular mismatch.  In his direct evidence he briefly described that as disorder where information from the ear and eyes regarding movement fail to gel, which creates a confusion that in turn creates imbalance, nausea, light-headedness and vertigo.  A longer explanation was provided in his report:

Visual Vestibular Mismatch refers to a condition where the patient develops symptoms which are distressing and bothersome. Anyone who has been sitting at a traffic light on an incline and suddenly notices that they are falling back down the incline and rapidly slams their foot on the brake has experienced a situation where a car next to them is in fact moving slowly forward and they misinterpret this and think that they are going backwards. This is a visual vestibular mismatch situation. The individual has had an awareness of visual information misinterpreted into the feeling that they are moving. This is a physiological visual vestibular mismatch. The condition of visual vestibular mismatch which is abnormal or pathological is of similar distressing symptoms induced by a situation where normal people do not get symptoms. Where there is a lot of movement around the individual this causes confusion, distress and dizzy symptoms. The reason for this dizzy symptomatology is that the information from the balance system of the ear, as the patient is moving, does not synchronize or mesh with the information that the patient receives from their own vision resulting in awareness that there is a difference between the two and a sensation of dizziness is produced. Particular situations where this occurs are ones with a lot of movement. Characteristically rippling water and also the standard situation of a lot of movement in a supermarket or shopping mall produces awareness of dizziness. Complaints of dizziness caused by checkered floors, busy carpets or patterned tiles is seen. Dislike of elevators and escalators, which caused dizziness is common. Busy television programs, such as car chases and hockey games cause dizziness. Scrolling a computer causes dizziness. The bright light in these circumstances is frequently complained of. People around the patient are moving relatively indiscriminately and this results in a dizzy sensation.

[31]    He concluded that this was caused by the accident:

Onset of dizziness subsequent to the accident means, in my opinion, that the accident is the [probable] cause. There are measured abnormalities on balance tests. She has an abnormal result on Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP), compatible with a disturbance involving the balance system of the inner ear. This is an objective test. She has an abnormal Ocular Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (OVEMP) test with an abnormality on the left side. This is an objective test. OVEMP measure the macula of the utricle, one of the gravity detecting organs of the inner ear…

[42]    …I accept Dr. Longridge’s report and conclusion.

[61]    A closer case – in fact one remarkably similar to the one at bar – is Moukhine v. Collins, 2012 BSCS 118.  In that case, the 53-year-old plaintiff also suffered visual-vestibular mismatch.  That impaired his ability to work as a computer programmer by 50%.  His previous activity level was curtailed, as was the nature and extent of his outdoor activity level.  Damages were assessed at $90,000.  Based on that, I assess general damages at $90,000.

bc injury law, Miolla v. Fick, Mr. Justice Myers, vertigo, visual vestibular mismatch

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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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