In Jones v. Rossner 2020 BCSC 2056, the 42 year-old female injured claimant suffered injuries in a motor vehicle accident when the vehicle she was driving was rear-ended without any prior warning.  Before the collision, she was in good health both physically and emotionally.  She regularly attended the gym and worked with a personal trainer.  She also enjoyed bike riding and golf along with several sedentary activities. She worked full-time in clothing sales where her responsibilities included selling wholesale clothing lines to retail outlets.

Immediately following the motor vehicle accident, the injured claimant experienced a headache, nausea and anxiety.  She also felt shaky and confused.  At trial, she testified about the significant change in her physical and psychological condition.  After the motor vehicle accident, she suffered headaches, intermittent pain, depression, anxiety, irritability, emotional fragility, and some impairment of her family, marital, and social relationships.  She also perceives a reduction in her cognitive abilities. Her cognitive symptoms included fatigue, slow thinking, memory lapses, lack of concentration, light and sound sensitivity, depressed mood, tearfulness, dizziness, and feeling overwhelmed.  Overall, she felt that her ability to work was negatively impacted and she was no longer able to enjoy her various recreational activities like she did previously.

Several medical experts testified regarding her injuries.  A neurologist testified that the injured claimant suffered a concussion also known as a mild traumatic brain injury in the collision.  This diagnosis was made based on her loss of consciousness at the time of the motor vehicle accident, as well as her confusion, vomiting shortly after the collision and segmented recall of the events immediately following the collision.  The expert also observed her cognitive issues which were apparent right after the motor vehicle accident.  As time progressed, she developed symptoms of post-concussion syndrome.  These symptoms included decreased memory, concentration, and attention span; decreased interest in socializing; photophobia; phonophobia; irritability; mood swings; anger outbursts; disturbed sleep pattern; inability to concentrate on the computer; generalized slowness of thinking; decreased ability to make decisions; multitasking difficulties; being overwhelmed in certain environments; decreased libido; decreased self-confidence; decreased self-esteem; and symptoms of anxiety. While her symptoms improved over time, they had not yet resolved by the time of trial.  The effects of the concussion contributed to her ongoing cognitive complaints.  The neurologist was of the opinion that the injured claimant was partially disabled due to ongoing residual effects of the physical injuries she sustained in the motor vehicle accident. While further improvement was expected with treatment, the neurologist opined that full recovery was not expected and that she would be left with permanent symptoms into the future.

In awarding $150,000.00 for pain and suffering (non-pecuniary damages), the trial judge stated:

[67]         I accept that Ms. Beckman was in good health physically, mentally, and emotionally prior to the Accident.  She managed a wide array of responsibilities concurrently.  She worked full time, was primarily responsible for the childcare of her two daughters, and did most of the housekeeping and cooking for her family.  Ms. Beckman was also quite active prior to the Accident.  She exercised regularly both at a gym and with a trainer, played golf, and frequently rode her bike.  She enjoyed baking, entertaining large groups of family and colleagues, and she was an avid reader.  She was sharp, energetic, and high functioning. 

[68]         After the Accident, Ms. Beckman’s life changed significantly.  She lacks confidence in her abilities and struggles to maintain her daily responsibilities.  She suffers from frequent headaches, anxiety, sleep interruptions, and cognitive symptoms that she describes as brain fog.  She also has ongoing pain in her upper shoulder and the left side of her neck. 

[69]         Her work takes longer because she needs frequent breaks.  She avoids complex tasks such as completing tax returns.  In the period following the Accident, Mr. Jones described Ms. Beckman’s failure to complete expense reports in a timely manner.  She had no difficulty with this type of task prior to the Accident. 

[70]         Ms. Beckman now relies significantly on her family to assist with many of the household tasks she previously performed on her own but this work is no longer completed to her previous standards.  She is able to do most household tasks but with pacing and at a lower level of intensity than before the Accident. 

[71]         Ms. Beckman and Mr. Jones rarely entertain, she no longer bakes, and is unable to concentrate on reading.  She is unable to exercise because doing so induces headaches and the symptoms she describes as brain fog.  It also exasperates the pain in the left side of her neck and left shoulder. Ms. Beckman is also no longer able to play golf, a sport she thoroughly enjoyed and played often with her family.  The ongoing symptoms caused by the Accident have significantly affected Ms. Beckman’s work, household and recreational activities. In general, her outlook and confidence have deteriorated. 

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