The plaintiff in this case was 67 years old and worked as a care aid and masseuse. She was injured in a motor vehicle accident after an oncoming vehicle made a left turn in front of her at an intersection. She sustained multiple physical injuries – most notably a whiplash type injury. The plaintiff later went on to develop chronic pain and psychological injury, including depression.
Of interest in this case was that the judge found the plaintiff’s ongoing chronic pain to be largely psychological and pre-existing, but reactivated by the initial genuine physical injuries. Since the plaintiff had a genuine belief that her pain was real, she was entitled to compensation for it:
“ She reactivated a pre-existing major depressive disorder with psychosis which is now in partial remission. Although she suffers from chronic pain disorder, I do not accept that the pain in the plaintiff’s groin, thigh and numbness in her lower legs were caused directly by the accident; they are the result of a chronic pain disorder or somatoform disorder. Nonetheless, her perception of pain in the low back is disabling and a function of the chronic pain disorder—thus, some of her current symptoms are contributed to indirectly by the accident.”
The plaintiff was given an award of $180,000 for pain and suffering. She was also given a relatively large award for Future Cost of Care of $90,000. The judge decided that an award for Future Cost of Care “should reflect what the evidence establishes is reasonably necessary to preserve the plaintiff’s health.” The plaintiff’s award included amounts for: physiotherapy, a driving service, and further psychological treatment.
This case illustrates the complexities involved in chronic pain cases, as the source of these injuries is typically both physical and psychological. This case also shows a growing acceptance by the courts to acknowledge injuries of a purely psychological nature.