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.

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[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

Court awards motorcyclist $850,000 in loss of earning capacity

In reasons for judgment released yesterday, the court in Sundin v. Turnbull, 2017 BCSC 15, awarded a 33 year-old plaintiff $850,000 for loss of future earning capacity.  In Sundin, the plaintiff had been rear-ended while riding his motorcycle and suffered a variety of physical and psychological injuries, including chronic pain and adjustment disorder.  In finding that the plaintiff was also entitled to $175,000 in non-pecuniary damages, Madam Justice Gerow wrote as follows:

[26]         Mr. Sundin has not adjusted well to the chronic pain, and has been diagnosed with an adjustment disorder. He is having trouble accepting he is not going to fully recover, and is going to have to live with chronic pain.

[77]         In my view, the expert evidence supports a finding that Mr. Sundin will continue to suffer from chronic pain and cognitive and memory problems in the future, and will likely suffer flare ups of both his physical and psychological symptoms from time to time.

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[108]     There is no question that Mr. Sundin’s life has changed profoundly as a result of the accident. Prior to the accident Mr. Sundin had a history of performing at a high level in both his work and personal life.

[156]      Accordingly, I have concluded that as a result of the accident, Mr. Sundin has lost the opportunity to pursue many careers involving heavy physical demands, including firefighting and policing or corrections. It is clear from the evidence that Mr. Sundin is unlikely to be successful in retraining in a formal setting. However, Mr. Sundin has the capacity to work at jobs that can accommodate his limitations.

[157]     This is a difficult case because Mr. Sundin’s ability to keep employment or find full time employment in more sedentary or recreation oriented jobs will likely be limited due to his mood issues, irritability, indecisiveness and inability to get along with people. On the other hand, Mr. Sundin may be able to find and keep employment in the hunting or working outdoors. However, that kind of work is seasonal.

[158]     Having considered all of the evidence, including Mr. Sundin’s age and residual capacity to earn income, I am of the view that the appropriate award for loss of future income earning capacity is $850,000. This award takes into consideration the fact that Mr. Sundin has not established that he would have applied for the RCMP but for the accident, but that he has established he would have applied for and obtained full time employment, likely in the fitness or recreation field. In my view, given his experience at the Canada Games Centre, it is unlikely Mr. Sundin will be able to obtain full time employment dealing with the general public which significantly limits that career possibility.

The text of the full decision can be found here: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/17/00/2017BCSC0015.htm