10 Apr Chronic Pain After a Motor Vehicle Accident

In Brown v. Mitchell, 2017 BCSC 125, the Court assessed damages for chronic pain.  The Plaintiff sustained injuries in two motor vehicle collisions, the second of which was more serious.

In the first collision, the Plaintiff was rear-ended after stopping behind traffic ahead of her that had stopped.  She reported dizziness, blurred vision, and back pain radiating to her leg following this accident.  In the second collision, she was a passenger in a vehicle that was struck after backing out of a parking spot.  After the second collision, she experienced increased symptoms for approximately three months.

The Plaintiff underwent extensive treatment, including a painful procedure called nerve ablation.  The medical experts expected that she would continue to have chronic low back pain and possibly accelerated spinal degeneration. The medical evidence recommended that she avoid work requiring above-the-waist work, sitting in flexed positions, and prolonged and repetitive work.  She was only 24 years old and had just started a new career as a dental assistant eight months before the collision.  This essentially meant that she could not continue her career as a dental assistant, because one cannot avoid those movements in that occupation.

The Defendant relied on surveillance of the Plaintiff engaged in sporting activities.  However, the Court noted that the lack of certain movements showed the Plaintiff was in fact limited and struggling.

In total, the Court awarded the Plaintiff $345,442.48:

  • The Court assessed her pain and suffering at $120,000 ;
  • The Court awarded past wage loss of $52,424;
  • In considering her future income loss, the Court noted that she had the potential to advance in her field. The Court assessed the loss based on a capital asset approach at $120,000;
  • The Court awarded cost of future care damages at $47,010. This included a significant amount for retraining based on a two-year program; and
  • The Court awarded $6,008.48 for her past treatment expenses.