06 Jun Pain and Suffering in the Golden Years

In Bardua v. Han, 2016 BCSC 861, the Court reviewed the principles of assessing pain and suffering damages using the “golden years” doctrine.

At the time of the collision, Ms. Bardua was 76-years old and was recovering from hip surgery. She was injured in a near-collision between the bus she was riding and a vehicle driven by the defendant.  She jolted in her seat and then “blacked out”.  Afterwards, she felt things were blurry and noted various issues, including back and rib pain.  A bone scan showed a rib fracture.  She was referred to a pain clinic and had various treatments, such as physiotherapy.  She had difficulties with her activities of daily living.

Ms. Bardua had non-accident related complaints that remained ongoing, such as back pain, knee pain and high blood pressure.  She had a history of depression, chronic liver disease and chronic liver failure.

In assessing her pain and suffering damages, the Court noted various relevant factors including age, nature of the injury, severity and duration of pain, disability, emotional suffering, impairment of life and relationships, impairment of abilities, loss of lifestyle and stoicism.

The Court noted that when considering age, an injury in a person of advanced years may be more serious than in a younger person because they have fewer years left to enjoy and the impairment can be more significant.  One’s activities may also become more limited with age so any substantial impairment of those limited activities can be more serious.  There may be significant impairments that deprive them of their prior levels of physical activity, productivity and enjoyment.

In this case, the Court found the injury did not permanently alter Ms. Bardua’s degree of future pain but that it did aggravate her pre-accident condition.  Considering similar cases, the Court awarded $50,000 for pain and suffering.

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