17 Jun Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

In the case of Shongu v. Jing, 2016 BCSC 901, the Plaintiff, Mr. Shongu, was injured in a motor vehicle accident which caused his prior post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to resurface, leaving him severely disabled.

By all accounts the Plaintiff had had a hard life. While growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, several members of his family were killed during that country’s civil war. In 2005, he immigrated to Canada as a refugee. When he arrived in Canada he was treated for PTSD symptoms caused by his traumatic upbringing.

In July of 2012, the Plaintiff was working as a security guard and driving between his various job sites. As he went to make a left turn his vehicle was side swiped by the Defendant’s vehicle, causing him physical and psychological injuries. As a result of the accident and his chronic physical pain, the Plaintiff’s PTSD was reactivated, and it became recurring and disabling.

The main issue in this case was whether the Plaintiff’s psychological disability was just a continuation of that which he experienced in the Democratic Republic of Congo or whether the accident was the cause of its recurrence.

This legal concept is known as a “thin skull” or, in the case of psychological disabilities, an “egg shell personality”. This concept describes the legal principle that the Defendant will be required to compensate the Plaintiff for the full amount of his loss, if it can be proved that the psychological disability would not have occurred in the absence of the accident.

The Court in this case held that the Plaintiff had settled in well into a life in Canada, he had a well-paying job as a security guard, he had married and he was raising 3 daughters. The Court decided that if it had not been for the accident, the Plaintiff would have continued to lead a healthy life, without any recurrence of his PTSD. The Court awarded the Plaintiff $1,080,000 in damages.

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