Head Injury Gets Compensation

Concussions have received much media attention lately as their risks and long-term effects are being documented. These injuries can happen in hard-hitting sports like boxing, hockey and football. Labelled mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) in medical jargon, concussions are also frequently suffered by victims of car accidents.

The effects can take some time to show up and may not be obvious. But subtle changes in mental ability and personality changes may become apparent over time.

If you’ve unfortunately suffered a car crash injury, you may be entitled to significant money compensation for your “non-pecuniary damages” (pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life).

In a recent case, Steven (names changed) was hurt in November, 2012 in Richmond when Joe made an unsafe turn and hit Steven’s vehicle. The accident was Joe’s fault. Steven felt dazed and unsteady when he got out of his vehicle, and may have hit the left side of his head inside his vehicle. He experienced neck pain, back pain, pain in his thumbs and in other parts of his body as a result of the accident. He managed this pain with Tylenol and Advil; visits to his chiropractor also helped. Though this pain improved in the years after the accident, some still persisted by the time of trial some years later.

Most troubling for Steven, though, were problems that only became apparent to him, his wife and his friends in the years after the car accident. Always a skilled carpenter and craftsman, he couldn’t work and carry on his business the same after the accident as before because certain movements caused him pain and he had some problems with math, speech and memory. He also had balance problems.

He also could no longer taste and judge wine the way he used to (he couldn’t taste or find the words to express the different attributes of wines as before). Wine-making and judging had previously been a favourite pastime.

Before the accident, Steven had been energetic, outgoing and personable. He was patient, loved crawling on the carpet with his grand-kids, and enjoyed company, wine-making and fishing. After the accident, his personality changed. He became irritable with his wife, sometimes to an extreme, as never before. He became impatient with his grand-kids, who now cut their visits short. His plans to expand his business, and perhaps become a wine judge and consultant with his friend, were now out of the question, and his social life diminished. He became withdrawn and a little depressed.

The court rejected defence arguments that his problems weren’t caused by the car accident, but by a different medical condition and later events. It decided Steven had suffered an injury to the left side of his head from the car accident that affected his balance system and suggested a mild traumatic brain injury. He was awarded $175,000 for non-pecuniary damages, and also another $250,000 for lost earning capacity.

This column has been written by Janice Mucalov LL.B as part of “You And The Law”. It provides information only and must not be relied on for legal advice. Names of the parties in reported cases have been changed or removed to protect their identity. Lawyer Janice Mucalov is an award-winning legal writer.

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