Of note in this case was not only the large overall award, but the relatively large award for pain and suffering (AKA non-pecuniary damages) of $170,000. This award acknowledges the severe affect chronic pain syndromes and psychological injury can have on a plaintiff’s life. The judge in this case noted the plaintiff’s inability to participate and enjoy social and community activities. The plaintiff in this case, prior to her motor vehicle collision, had been relatively active and also engaged in community events such as attending at local religious institutions and socializing with friends. The injuries the plaintiff sustained in this collision, severely affected her ability to participate in these activities.
It should also be noted that in order to receive such a large award, the plaintiff had to meet a heavy evidential burden. The evidence in this case included expert testimony from a physiatrist, an anaesthesiologist, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, the plaintiff’s family doctor, an occupational therapist, and an economist. Hiring such a large array of experts is not uncommon in cases involving severe psychological injuries. These injuries, unlike more easily observable orthopaedic injuries, often result in far more credibility issues. Hiring experts to confirm a plaintiff’s injuries is an excellent way to shore up a plaintiff’s credibility. A good personal injury lawyer will not only help you select proper medical experts but will help you fund retaining them.
This case also, once again, illustrates the importance of not settling too early. Had this plaintiff settled early on with ICBC, the full extent of her psychological injuries may not have been known and a fair settlement would not have been reached.