In Geddert v. Stokes 2021 BCSC 656, the injured claimant, a window washer, was injured when his ladder was struck by a reversing car. At the time, he was washing the outside windows above a garage door at a condominium development.
The trial judge dismissed ICBC’s arguments that others were liable for the accident finding that the injuries were caused entirely by the motor vehicle accident.
As a result of his ladder being struck, the injured claimant fell causing him to suffer significant injuries including a traumatic brain injury, fractured skull and multiple other fractures to his neck, back and elbow. Following the accident, he was in a coma. The court noted he made a “miraculous” recovery with regards to his physical injuries. His most significant injury, however, was the traumatic brain injury which caused him ongoing memory problems, cognitive issues and personality changes. His deficits from the brain injury were considered permanent.
The trial judge awarded $225,000.00 for pain and suffering (non-pecuniary damages). See this news article reviewing this ICBC brain injury case.
In making this award for pain and suffering, the court reviewed prior similar cases where pain and suffering awards were made to injured claimants who suffered a brain injury.
Review of Pain and Suffering Awards for Traumatic Brain Injuries
In O’Connell v. Yung, 2010 BCSC 1764, the injured claimant was a 57 year-old office worker. She suffered a severe traumatic brain injury with shear and surface injuries to her brain; fractures to her cervical spine, right femur, right ankle, left tibia, left fibula, ribs, toes, nose, and sternum; and internal injuries that included a laceration of her spleen and a contusion to her liver. She was able to make a good recovery from most of her physical injuries over time, but was left with ongoing problems resulting from her femur fracture that would likely require ongoing treatment and future surgery. Her brain injury left her with permanent deficits in many areas, including cognitive and executive functioning and a changed personality including reduced insight and judgment, reduced decision-making ability, immaturity, decreased energy, disinhibition, apathy, emotional blunting, decreased interest, self-centredness, and reclusiveness. The trial judge found that in addition to her ongoing physical limitations, the injured claimant had an increased risk of developing seizures or dementia in the future, and might develop delirium with any future illness. In fact, she had gone from someone who was active, social, employed, and with a stable and happy marriage and close relationships with family to someone who did not have a normal emotional affect and who was unable to work, plan or organize, have a normal relationship with her family and friends, or care for herself. Her limitations were significant and permanent. The trial judge awarded her $275,000 for pain and suffering (approximate present-day value: $330,400).
In Clost v. Relkie 2012 BCSC 1393, the injured claimant was a 59-year-old pharmacy technician and hairdresser. She suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, a compound fracture of her femur, several fractured ribs, fractured wrists, fractured heels, tinnitus and hearing loss, and cognitive, psychological, and emotional difficulties and impairments as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Following the accident, she was in a coma for approximately a month, and was hospitalized for five months following the collision. She suffered a significant foot and ankle injury, for which future surgery was recommended. She suffered from sleeplessness, loss of hearing, tinnitus, and debilitating fatigue. She also had significant personality changes, including loss of emotional control, impulsivity, disinhibition, emotional lability, reduced insight, immaturity and others. She continued to have subtle but significant cognitive impairments, particularly in relation to concentration and short-term recall. The trial judge awarded her $300,000 for pain and suffering (approximate present-day value: $343,800).
In Jarmson v. Jacobsen, 2012 BCSC 64, the injured claimant was in excellent physical health and was very physically fit before he suffered a traumatic brain injury, fractures of his femur, wrist, and foot, chest trauma with a collapsed right lung, contusions to his eye, facial lacerations and lacerations to his toe and elbow as a result of a motorcycle accident. He spent three months recovering from his physical injuries. He was found to have a complex regional pain syndrome in his right foot, heterotopic bone formation in the right thigh muscle, stiffness of the right knee, tears of tendons and cartilage of the right shoulder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. The injured claimant remained on leave from his teaching job for approximately one year following his accident, and after he returned to his job, despite accommodation, his ability to cope was badly compromised, and a few years after the accident he retired from teaching. He was left with permanent physical, neurological, and psychological symptoms and limitations and an adjustment disorder, depression, and altered body image. He had chronic pain in his right knee, right foot, and right shoulder and continued to be impacted by daily fatigue, both mental and physical, and remained prone to emotional meltdowns. The trial judge awarded him $230,000 for pain and suffering (approximate present-day value: $263,600).
In Van v. Howlett, 2014 BCSC 1404, the injured claimant was a 47-year-old cook and part-time manicurist who suffered a severe brain injury, serious injuries to her head and face including factures and dental injuries. She also suffered fractures of her ribs, bruising to her right lung, and spent approximately nine weeks in hospital before being discharged to an out-patient. As a result of her brain injury, she suffered a complete personality change. Her brain injury led to psychological problems, conflicts, picking fights, and she was often angry, critical and verbally abusive, had trouble making decisions, was careless in personal hygiene and appearance, and was forgetful and unreliable. The injured claimant was left with permanent cognitive and psychological deficits and given the severity of her brain injury she essentially suffered a loss of self and ability to control her own life. She was rendered unemployable and required considerable daily care. Her injuries were catastrophic and she essentially suffered a loss of self and loss of ability to have control over her own life. No aspect of her life was left unimpaired and her prognosis was very poor. The trial judge awarded her $351,000 for pain and suffering (approximate present-day value: $392,900).
In Ngo v. Fong, 2020 BCSC 624, the injured claimant was a 26-year-old civic engineer who had newly emigrated from Vietnam when she was injured by a motor vehicle while walking as a pedestrian. She suffered a moderate traumatic brain injury, a lacerated liver, headaches, diplopia in her left eye, soft tissue pain in her knee, dizziness and severe cognitive, mood and anxiety issues. She spent three days in hospital and was diagnosed as having suffered three bilateral subdural hematomas. She had a period of amnesia and had limited recollection of the events for about a month post-accident. Her lasting injuries from the collision included knee pain and severe mood issues. Although she was able to continue her English studies, she was unable to pursue her certification in civic engineering in Canada. Her employment attempts at a bakery presented challenges, as she needed to take notes of simple steps in her work and reminders. Her manager testified that she made more mistakes than other employees. The trial judge awarded her $210,000 for pain and suffering.