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Pain and Suffering Award Increased to Account for Mental Injury


This Court of Appeal injury case is filled with lots of legal analysis for personal injury lawyers such as early retirement loss, subrogation and mandatory net wage loss of ICBC claimants. In this article I will focus on the increase in the claimant’s award for emotional pain and suffering.

 The claimant suffered physical and emotional injuries as a passenger in a car accident that occurred on Lougheed Highway at 216th Street in Maple Ridge.  The claimant’s vehicle was going straight and another car made a left turn resulting in a collision of considerable force.

After discussing the evidence, the judge said that without expert evidence in the field of psychiatry or psychology he was unable to conclude that his emotional or mental state was adversely affected by the accident or whether the changes in his social life resulted from the accident.

This was found to be completely wrong and the judge’s failure to accept the emotional and mental manifestations of the claimant’s injuries as compensable was an error of principle. When increasing his pain and suffering award from $65,000 to $85,000 the Court of Appeal had this to say:

[66]… it does not matter whether Mr. R’s diminished social life, vulnerable mental state, and adverse emotions were founded on psychological injuries or were traceable to physical problems. Whether his symptoms were the result of psychological impairments or simply the consequence of physical impairments and pain is immaterial. As was pointed out in Saadati, compensation is based on the symptoms and effects of the problem rather than on its diagnosis.( Riley v. Ritsco,2018 BCCA 366)

Given the inconvenience of a new trial, and the age of the claimant (69 years old at the time of the decision) the Court agreed to substitute its own assessment of damages for the one made by the trial judge. Judge Groberman found it would be neither efficient nor fair to the parties to require a new trial on damages.

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

Tags: Pain and Suffering, psychiatric injury, Psychological Injuries

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