As discussed in a prior blog post, when a trial judge makes an award for pain and suffering (also referred to as non-pecuniary damages), the law is clear that in determining what is reasonable each case must be assessed individually depending on the nature of the injuries sustained by the injured claimant and on an assessment of the the following non-exclusive list of factors set out in the seminal case of Stapley v. Hejslet, 2006 BCCA 34:
(1) the age of the injured claimant;
(2) the nature of the injury/injuries;
(3) the severity and duration of pain;
(4) the extent of any resulting disability;
(5) the extent of any emotional suffering; and
(6) whether there has been an impairment in quality of life.
This list of factors were considered by the trial judge when making an award for pain and suffering in a recent case (Sharpe v Koomson, 2019 BCSC 558).
In this case, the male plaintiff was involved in two motor vehicle accidents where he suffered multiple injuries. At the time of trial, he had not yet recovered and he continued to experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, tinnitus, neck and back pain, light sensitivity (requiring special glasses), fatigue, as well as cognitive and emotional difficulties. Prior to the accident, he was healthy and an active individual. Following the collision, the injuries impacted numerous parts of his life including his recreational pursuits and his ability to continue working in his chosen career. His imbalance issues resulted in a fall where he hurt his ACL and required knee surgery. In assessing damages, the Court wrote at paras. 292 and 293, “[the plaintiff] has tinnitus from which he is unlikely to recover...[and] he is preoccupied by his symptoms and experiences anxiety as a result. His dizziness and imbalance issues are particularly significant sources of anxiety and fear of re-injury. These symptoms have resulted in significant loss of enjoyment of life”. Damages for pain and suffering were assessed in the amount of $170,000.00.