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Non-Pecuniary Damages

I was injured in a crash three years ago. I followed through with all the  treatment recommendations of medical professionals and adjusted my life as needed to deal with my chronic pain. While my life is on the same path as before the crash and might not look dramatically different to outsiders, I have had to make accommodations at work and home to keep me on that path. Will a judge see my chronic pain and fairly compensate me for it?

 

In the recent case of Bove v. Wilson (2016 BCSC 1620) the plaintiff, 31 at the time of the 2013 rear-ender, was left with chronic neck pain with accompanying headaches. Ms. Bove continued to work in her administrative job with the BCTF following the crash. The judgement makes no real mention of impacts to her social life or level of activity. Gathering information from other heads of damages shows she had missed a total of 96.5 hours of work over the past three years, required a height adjusted desk, and occasionally had to ask her mother to help with household chores when her neck pain would flare up.

Mr. Justice Jenkins considered the medical evidence and stated:

[38]         I further find that Ms. Bove has experienced pain and suffering over the more than three and one-half years since the accident and that she will continue to experience chronic pain to some degree permanently in the future as opined by Dr. Giantomaso and Dr. Locht, who testified on cross-examination, that the likelihood of a resolution of her injuries after three years is low and that the injuries are likely to only be disabling to the plaintiff on what were submitted to be a few times each year.

He then went on to consider the award for Non-Pecuniary Damages:

[43]         In Ms. Bove’s case, I find the most significant factors include Ms. Bove’s age, the severity and duration of pain, the impairment of physical abilities, loss of lifestyle and, Ms. Bove’s stoicism. The defence has agreed in submissions that the plaintiff “has had largely appropriate treatment for her accident-related injuries and was forthcoming about them”.

 

[45]          In submissions relating to the quantum of non-pecuniary damages, Ms. Bove relies upon:

  1.  Brock v. King, 2009 BCSC 1179;
  2.  Fell v. Morton, 2012 BCSC 428;
  3. Rutledge v. Jimmie, 2014 BCSC 41;
  4. Hinder v. Yellow Cab Company Ltd., 2015 BCSC 2069.

In these cases, non-pecuniary damages were awarded in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $65,000. Upon a review of those decisions, I find the circumstances in Hinder in which the award amounted to $60,000, to be most like the circumstances in the case before me. The plaintiff in that case had suffered neck and back pain, some of which had resolved, but faced neck pain and headaches in the future. The plaintiff in Hinder was 29 years of age as of the date of the collision whereas Ms. Bove was 31 years of age when she was injured. Both were considered to be stoic, continuing as best as possible to continue on with their lives despite the pain and headaches and continued with a positive attitude.

 

[46]         Considering all factors, especially the severity and duration of the plaintiff’s pain, Ms. Bove’s age and impairment of her physical abilities, loss of lifestyle and he stoicism, I grant non-pecuniary damages of $60,000.

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