When we’re involved in a car accident, we can consider ourselves lucky if we don’t sustain more than a minor injury. For many Canadians, car accidents are life-changing and cause reduced mobility and dexterity, chronic pain and mental health issues, such as depression, PTSD and anxiety. And, in many cases, these symptoms are ongoing and permanent.
Car accident victims, including pedestrians and cyclists, have several options for obtaining compensation for losses and expenses associated with their injury, such as statutory accident benefits under their vehicle insurance policy, a lawsuit for damages against the negligent driver, and/or long-term disability benefits. However, anyone who suffers from a serious injury knows that there is really no amount of money that can truly compensate a person for a reduced quality of life, and compensation or damages simply serves to reduce the financial costs of a long-term injury.
Plaintiff is awarded car accident damages for back injury that causes chronic pain and depression: Hanger v. Shin (2019)
Hanger v. Shin (2019) is a civil action that arose after a man was injured in a rear-end collision, and his injuries negatively impacted his social interactions and ability to work in his long-term career. The injured man (the plaintiff) was 47 years-old at the time of the accident and was a martial-arts instructor who had been actively involved in martial-arts since university. The plaintiff operated his own martial arts training business, which included several training centres to train adults and children. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was personally providing about 20 hours of instruction, 8 hours on the floor, and 30-40 hours performing administrative responsibilities for his business.
Four years before the car accident that is the focus of this case, the plaintiff was injured in another accident also caused by a negligent driver who rear-ended his vehicle. As a result of this first accident, the plaintiff sustained injuries to his neck and back for which he received treatment and was about 75 percent recovered at the time of the second accident. The primary symptoms at that time were left-sided lower back pain which flared up when he provided high level instruction. In connection with the first accident, the plaintiff was awarded damages in a civil lawsuit which was resolved in 2011.
The second car accident occurred in 2012 and the 'at fault' driver rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle with sufficient force to break his seat bracket. Immediately after the crash, the plaintiff felt pain in his neck and back, and was treated in the hospital and released after one day. In addition to the neck and increased back pain, he developed numbness in his left leg and severe headaches.
The plaintiff was unable to do any type of work for two or three months after the accident, and then began performing administrative duties. In time, he slowly began teaching again, as well. Although his neck pain largely resolved in a year, he continued to experience back pain which made it difficult for him to sit for extended periods and affected his balance. These symptoms diminished the plaintiff’s ability to perform many martial arts manoeuvres and as a result, he cannot teach higher level classes and was forced to hire additional staff. The plaintiff also believes that his business suffered with respect to student retention because he is no longer on the floor.
Since the 2012 accident, the plaintiff has undergone various rehabilitation treatments for his back pain, including physiotherapy, lumbar facet and trigger point injections, and massage therapy. Since 2015, he also pursued treatment from a psychologist because he is easily frustrated and increasingly lashes out at staff, service people and friends, and has been experiencing depression. The plaintiff also alleges that he socializes less, interacts less with his children, has trouble sleeping, and has a reduced libido. And, although the rehabilitation therapies have somewhat reduced his symptoms, by perhaps as much as 50 percent, he continues to experience symptoms and doesn’t work as much as he used to. A comparison of the plaintiff’s appearance before the second accident and at the time of the trial was compelling evidence of how much he changed and aged in the relatively short period.
The judge in this case assessed the amount of total damages for the plaintiff as $415,437.14, which is based on the losses he suffered as a result of the 2012 accident. The following losses were included in the total award of damages:
- $120,000 in Non-pecuniary damages for pain and suffering
- $ 90,000 for past loss of income
- $170,000 for future loss of income and opportunity
- $30,000 for future cost of care and rehabilitation treatments
- $ 5,437.14 for special damages
If you or a loved one were seriously hurt in a car accident and you would like to seek damages against a negligent driver, or if you are having your statutory accident claim disputed, call an experienced car accident lawyer at Stevenson Whelton MacDonald & Swan and let us help you obtain the compensation you are owed.