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Pain and suffering Court awards in BC personal injury accidents - sample cases in 2014

Rose Keith, BA JD,  author of articles on personal injury based in downtown Vancouver, BC

How have courts valued pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life as "compensation" awarded in Personal Injury Cases in 2014 - Sample Summaries by:  Rose Keith, BA JD, Vancouver BC personal injury lawyer - first published 2014.01 RoseKeith.bc.ca

In each edition of According to Rose Newsletter by Rose keith JD, at RoseKeith.bc.ca we summarize the courts decisions on awards for pain and suffering or "non-pecuniary" damages in personal injury cases.  The general principle behind awards of damages is that they are made to compensate a plaintiff for the pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that they suffer as a result of the injury.  The award is meant to put to the plaintiff in the position that they would have been in if they had not been injured in the accident.  A primary consideration is how the injury has changed the person's life. 

An analysis of the person's life and health prior to the injury is a central part of the assessment. Our courts also strive for consistency among awards; therefore, an understanding of what has been awarded in past similar cases informs an assessment of what is likely to be awarded in the future.

Sample Awards in 2014

Loft v. Nat, 2014 BCCA 108
The Court of Appeal confirmed an award of $40,000 made to a 46 year old plaintiff who had suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck, back and shoulders in an October 2007 motor vehicle accident. At the time of trial five years after the accident, the trial judge found that he had largely recovered two years after the accident.

Pan v. Shihunda, 2014 BCSC 504
The 51 year old plaintiff was injured in two motor vehicle accidents occurring approximately 18 months apart.  The trial judge found that the evidence established that the accidents aggravated his pre accident low back and shoulder pain and that he continued to suffer from low back and shoulder pain that was greater in degree than it was prior to the accidents. Because his back problems were symptomatic prior to the accident the judge found that there was a 25 percent chance that the plaintiff's pre-existing conditions would have interfered with his life to the same degree had neither accident occurred, warranting a 25 deduction in the award of damages. Given this the judge awarded $40,000 for pain and suffering. The trial occurred five years after the first accident.

Lawson v. Kirk, 2014 BCSC 461 .
the 20 year old plaintiff suffered a neck and back soft tissue injury in a motor vehicle accident which occurred four years prior to the trial.  At the time of trial she was continuing to experience symptoms associated with that injury.  She was awarded $45,000 for pain and suffering.

Klim v. Purdy, 2014 BCSC 578
- the 53 year old plaintiff suffered neck and left shoulder pain as well as headaches following a motor vehicle accident in 2010. The trial judge found that for the first two years after the accident, the plaintiff had neck and shoulder pain and severe headaches almost daily and for the first two months following the accident his pre existing low back injury was aggravated. At trial, the plaintiff’s symptoms had improved but had not resolved and were not expected to in the future.  The evidence established that his symptoms were chronic and his injuries were a permanent disability. The effect of the chronic symptoms and permanent disability were found by the trial judge to be substantial. An award of $65,000 for pain and suffering was made.

Parhar v. Dawe, 2014 BCSC 580
the 49 year old male plaintiff was awarded $85,000 for pain and suffering for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident which occurred six years prior to trial. At the time of trial it was found that he clearly had ongoing problems with his neck, left shoulder, lower back and leg and the evidence established that he would likely continue to suffer pain and be restricted in his physical abilities into the future. The trial judge found that there was a high likelihood that, notwithstanding the recommendations made for continued treatment, there would be no significant recovery in his lower back, neck and right shoulder injuries.

Lewis v. Scheer, 2014 BCSC 573
- the 48 year old female plaintiff was awarded $70,000 for pain and suffering for injuries she suffered in a 2010 motor vehicle accident.  The injuries were soft tissue in nature and involved her back, shoulders and neck and left her with chronic pain and headaches. The medical evidence established that she would be left with ongoing pain although it may diminish if she followed recommended treatment. Her injuries and pain were found to affect and would continue to affect her enjoyment of life, family and social relationships and lifestyle.

Mosimann v. Guliker, 2014 BCSC 492
- The 55 year old female plaintiff was injured in three motor vehicle accidents occurring over the course of five years.  At the trial to assess damages for all three accidents she was awarded $120,000 for pain and suffering.  The trial judge found that her main problems continued to be post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pain and sensitivity in her nose which she had fractured in the first accident, as well as constant pain in her neck, left thoracic spine and shoulder blade area and left shoulder.  The nose fracture was treated surgically. The trial judge concluded that there was potential for improvement in the post traumatic stress symptoms.

D.(J.) v. Chandra, 2014 BCSC 466
$100,000 for pain and suffering was awarded to a female plaintiff who was 17 years old and in grade 12 at the time of a first motor vehicle accident and in fourth year university at the time of the second accident.  The trial judge found that as a result of the injuries suffered in the accidents the plaintiff went from being extremely athletic and competitive, involved in many activities to one where she had to give up many activities and limit her involvement in many more.  She was more socially restricted and suffered from low mood. She had constant pain and had trouble sleeping and concentrating.

Michael v. Bayfield, 2014 BCSC 1602 .
A 29 year old male was injured in a motor vehicle accident in September 2009.  Following the accident he experienced low back pain, neck pain and headaches. At the time of the trial almost five years later the judge found that his main complaint was constant low grade neck pain, associated with headaches which would become severe approximately twice per month.  $65,000 for pain and suffering was awarded.

Kuras v. Repo, 2014 BCSC 1634 .
The female plaintiff was 31 years old when she was injured in a rear end motor vehicle accident which occurred 4 years prior to trial.  The motor vehicle accident resulted in neck and back pain as well as headaches.  She was awarded $80,000 for her pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.  The judge found that she was now restricted in her enjoyment of many aspects of her daily life, and would likely continue to be constrained by her symptoms, which intruded with varying frequency and intensity. In addition, she could no longer engage in activities:  running, long-distance cycling, and hiking . which she relied on for her emotional well-being and which were key elements of her family life.

Article author:  Rose Keith, LLB, former President of the B.C. Trial Lawyers Association (www.tlabc.org, and is well known Vancouver personal injury lawyer.  See www.rosekeith.bc.ca - first published 2014 - republished in BCpersonalinjury.org 2015-03-04

Rose Keith, ICBC Car Accident Injury Disputes Lawyer l in downtown Vancouver BC Rose Keith, JD RoseKeith.bc.ca ICBC injury disputes / Medical Malpractice / Employment Law.

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© 2013 Rose Keith - published in www.bcpersonalinjury.org

Rose Keith, see also Rose's article on Motorbike Insurance in BC
read article “Survivors guide to ICBC: Understanding basic procedures, rights & obligations when dealing with ICBC”

See also article Intro. to damages compensation from personal injury by Vancouver lawyer Bruce Lemer

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