This injury claimant was awarded more than $1.2 million after suffering a traumatic brain injury. He was driving from Kelowna to Vernon when his truck  was side-swiped, forced into oncoming traffic and collided with a city bus. The paramedics found the claimant conscious but confused and disoriented. He had an obvious bump on his head. He was not oriented to location or time. His Glasgow Coma Scale assessment was 14 out of 15 likely some minutes after the car accident.(Weaver v. Pollock,2018 BCSC 531)
The claimant gave a statement to ICBC and signed what had been typed up for him within one month of the car accident. That statement set out details including that the claimant was unconscious for some time.
The injury claimant was 63 years old and he suffered a number of injuries including a traumatic brain injury which resulted in early neurocognitive disorder (dementia) as well as soft tissue injuries to his right shoulder and to his chest. The judge found not only the brain injury but also the dementia was caused by the car accident. The judge put it this way,

[92]   I find that the Collision caused the traumatic brain injury and that the traumatic brain injury has led Mr. W. into dementia so that he is entitled to damages flowing from the negligent act of the Defendants.

 In awarding the claimant $175,000.00 for pain and suffering the judge conducted a helpful review of relevant caselaw to understand how much the case is worth. Some of cases reviewed included the following:

Wong (Litigation Guardian of) v. Towns, 2015 BCSC 1333 where non-pecuniary damages of $180,000 were awarded to a woman who was 80 and retired. Ms. Wong suffered soft tissue injuries, and a mild traumatic brain injury with later persistent symptoms of concussion including anxiety and depression, cognitive changes, sleep difficulties and significant personality change. Bruce J. found Ms. Wong to have a “thin skull” and found that the mild traumatic brain injury triggered dementia-related symptoms and persistent post-concussion syndrome.

Watkins v. Dormuth, 2014 BCSC 543, where non-pecuniary damages of $175,000 were awarded to a 32 year-old pulp mill worker whose vehicle was struck by a police car. The plaintiff was amnesic until she was at the hospital and suffered a wound to her head requiring stitches. Ms. Watkins described her initial cognitive symptoms as a sense of confusion and impairment and suffered lingering cognitive problems included difficulty with memory, poor concentration, fatigue, irritability and noise intolerance and problems with low mood.

Goguen v. British Columbia, 2002 BCSC 1598, a 50-year-old plaintiff suffered significant orthopedic injury to his wrist, facial injuries, and a mild traumatic brain injury which lead to a change in personality and social functioning, and causing the plaintiff to suffer reduced memory leading to loss of train-of-thought and a forgetting of tasks he had done and those that needed to be completed. An award of $125,000 for non-pecuniary damages was made.

The judge found that mild traumatic brain injury, or in this case subdural haematoma,  can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, or an increased risk of dementia. The court accepted a a traumatic brain injury can be caused by any period of loss of consciousness, of loss of memory for events immediately before or after the collision, and of alteration in mental state at the time of the car accident.
The following is a summary of the personal injury court award:

(a) Pain and Suffering: $175,000.00
(b) Past loss of opportunity: $40,000.00
(c) In trust claim: $103,063.00
(d) Future diminished earning capacity: $197,400.00
(e) Cost of future care: $766,203.00
(f) Special damages: $3,554.38
Total assessed damages: $1,285,220.38

Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.

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