Court awards $110,000 in non-pecuniary damages for soft-tissue injuries and “adjustment disorder”

In reasons for judgment released today, the court in Bivadi v. Coggans, 2017 BCSC 656, awarded the plaintiff $110,000 in non-pecuniary damages for soft-tissue injuries and adjustment disorder.  Mr. Justice Smith wrote:

[64]        The evidence supports a conclusion that the plaintiff’s pain, his associated psychological problems, and the effects of prescription medication combined to be significantly disabling for about a year after the accident. After that, there was a process of slow improvement, with symptoms still present at trial two and a half years after the accident. The medical prognosis at the date of trial was for continued improvement, but with complete recovery from pain unlikely. However, the plaintiff appears to have acquired some skills to manage his pain, with a resulting improvement in his mental state.

[65]        In Unger v. Singh, 2000 BCCA 94 [Unger], the Court of Appeal said that in cases involving primarily soft-tissue injuries with some emotional problems such as sleep disruption, nervousness or depression, the decided cases indicated a range of non-pecuniary damages awards from $35,000 to $125,000: at para. 32. Counsel for the plaintiff submitted that when adjusted to 2015 dollars, that range would be approximately $46,000 to $166,000.

[66]        In Unger, the plaintiff was involved in two motor vehicle accidents. The first caused soft-tissue injuries, psychological, and emotional problems which were largely resolved by the time of the second accident a year and a half later. The second accident caused some minor aggravation, but by the time of trial about two years after the first accident, the plaintiff had resumed most of her pre-accident activities. The Court of Appeal reduced a jury award to $90,000.

...

[68]        Having regard to the severity of the plaintiff’s initial symptoms, his substantial but far from complete improvement by the time of trial, the probability of continued symptoms in the future and the fact that the plaintiff was at risk for developing pain at some point from his pre-existing degenerative condition, I assess his non-pecuniary damages at $110,000.

The full decision can be found here: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/17/06/2017BCSC0656.htm