15 Apr Pre-Existing Conditions

If you have a pre-existing condition before your accident, how does that affect your personal injury case?  While each case is fact specific, Gulati v. Chan, 2015 BCSC 431, is an example. 

In that case, the Plaintiff had arthritis before the accident.  As a result of the motor vehicle accident, she fractured her left arm which caused ongoing arm and shoulder stiffness.  She also suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck, hips and lower back, headaches, depression and mild hearing loss.  Her case was further complicated because she fractured her elbow after the accident.

The Court’s analysis started with a review of the typical, although not exhaustive, list of  factors a court will consider:

(a)  Age of the plaintiff;

(b)  Nature of the injury;

(c)  Severity and duration of pain;

(d)  Disability;

(e)  Emotional suffering;

(f)   Loss of impairment of life;

(g)  Impairment of family, marital and social relationships;

(h)  Impairment of physical and mental abilities;

(i)    Loss of lifestyle; and

(j)    The plaintiff’s stoicism (as a factor that should not, generally speaking, penalize the plaintiff).

The Court summarized the relevant evidence at paragraph 79:

[79]      The evidence of Mrs. Gulati’s family members and friends who testified at trial uniformly points to a significant change in her personality and activity levels post-accident.  Before the Accident, she was a vibrant, active person who worked outside of the home and took care of many of the domestic tasks at home.  She was friendly and outgoing and participated in community events.  After the accident, she withdrew from her friends and family.  She was easily irritated and this cased tension and problems in her relations with her husband and children.  It also caused her to become ostracized from her friends and community.

Upon considering similar cases, the Court awarded her $150,000 for pain and suffering.  However, the court still had to consider the impact of her pre-existing arthritis and post-accident elbow fracture.  After doing so, the Court reduced her award by 20%.

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