In Chai v. Greenwood 2020 BCSC 1294, the 46 year-old male injured claimant suffered headaches, mood changes and soft tissue injuries in a motor vehicle accident. The medical experts were of the opinion that while some more improvement was expected, it would not result in full recovery. As such, the injuries collectively were considered chronic and permanent.
In assessing damages, the trial judge noted that the well established and fundamental principle of compensation in personal injury cases that an injured claimant should receive “full and fair compensation, calculated to place him or her in the same position as he or she would have been had the negligence by the at fault driver not been committed, insofar as this can be achieved by a monetary award“.
When considering the amount to award for pain and suffering, the courts are guided by the following factors:
- age of the plaintiff;
- nature of the injury;
- severity and duration of pain;
- emotional suffering;
- loss or impairment of life;
- impairment of family, marital and social relationships;
- impairment of physical and mental abilities;
- loss of lifestyle; and
- the injured claimant’s stoicism
While the injuries were not considered severe in the sense that the injured claimant was able to continue to function, the trial judge noted that the nature of his injuries and duration is such that the pain has become chronic, his sleep disturbance is regular and his mood changes are constant. As a result, this vicious cycle affected all aspects of his life.
The trial judge accepted that the impairment to the injured claimant’s lifestyle is significant. Prior to the accident, he was very committed to a regular routine of physical fitness and healthy living which he had been following for many years. He also worked a physical profession as a pit manager and relief casino manager which involved standing and walking for several hours of his shift. He had worked graveyard shifts for many years and was able to do so prior to the collision because he could sleep well. This all changed as a result of his chronic injuries. His activity level is significantly lower than it was before the accident due to the pain. He is no longer able to enjoy the large family gatherings in the same way. He is significantly withdrawn from his prior social activities. As his socialization centred around physical activity, his injuries were a barrier to continuing with his prior lifestyle.
Damages for pain and suffering were awarded in the amount of $120,000.00.
The trial judge considered the following similar cases when making this award: