PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Personal Injury Claims in BC Canada
Reference & Definitions Resources
Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome & Legal Implications in Personal Injury Claims -
Case Studies Presentation by
To date in 2013 there have been 4 decisions concerning PTSD in the British Columbia Supreme Court. Those cases are reviewed below to provide the reader with an understanding of the way in which PTSD is dealt with in British Columbia Courts.
Plishka-Humphreys v. Bolen 2013 BCSC 1298
With respect to the effect of the assault on the Plaintiff, the Trial Judge found as follows:
The medical evidence in the case relevant to PTSD included a neuro-psychological report of Dr. Jeffrey Martzke, who is a retired psychologist. Dr. Martzke opined in part as follows:
In addition to the PTSD, the Plaintiff suffered a permanent injury to his right eye resulting in double vision and a risk of glycemic. He also suffers from anxiety and thoughts of suicide and he is more vulnerable to further exacerbation of his PTSD. He also lost a tooth in the course of the assault. He was awarded $50,000 for non pecuniary damages.
Vander Maeden v. Condon 2013 BCSC 1389
The Plaintiff was injured while he was a passenger in a motor vehicle that was struck broadside by another vehicle as it was making a left turn across the highway. The accident occurred on March 20, 2009. The Plaintiff was involved in a second accident on May 5, 2011 while he was a pedestrian. As he was walking he was struck by a vehicle backing out of a driveway.
In the first accident the Plaintiff struck his head against the passenger door window as well as the front windshield. He was descried as fading in and out of consciousness.
The Plaintiffs health prior to being involved in these accidents was a significant factor in the trial. The Trial Judge found that just prior to the first accident the Plaintiff was suffering from the following:
With respect to symptoms relating to PTSD, the Trial Judge described the Plaintiffs evidence as being that after the first accident his self-confidence began diminishing and he started to experience anxiety and fear of being on a roadway or in a public place. He was described as experiencing a growing sense of frustration, anger and depression.
The evidence with respect to the existence of PTSD came from Dr. Desmond Coen, a retired psychologist with a specialty in neuropsychology. His opinion was in part as follows:
The Trial Judge explained the legal principles of causation and concluded as follows:
The Trial Judge awarded $110,000 for non pecuniary damages.
Ahonen v. Thauli 2013 BCSC 1607
This case concerned the Plaintiffs claim for damages as a result of injuries that she suffered in a motor vehicle accident on April 17, 2009. At the time of the trial, the Plaintiff was 45 years of age, married and the mother of an 18 year old daughter and 15 year old twins. The accident occurred on King George Boulevard in Surrey and happened when the Defendant without warning turned left and drove into the Plaintiffs vehicle. There was no intersection at the location where the Defendant turned left and the Plaintiff did not anticipate him doing so.
The Plaintiff testified that after the accident she was scared and shaking. She called 911 from the scene of the accident but was too shaken to answer questions. An ambulance attended the scene as did the fire department. They had to use the jaws of life to remove her from the vehicle. The Plaintiffs husband attended at the scene of the accident and he described her as being white and very scared:. He said that her hands were shaking and she was almost crying.
The expert evidence relevant to PTSD was given by Dr. Janke, a forensic psychiatrist. Dr. Jankes opinion was as follows:
The Trial Judge awarded $100,000 for non pecuniary damages which included significant physical symptoms. The Trial Judged noted that prior to the motor vehicle accident she enjoyed a very physically active life and that since the accident she has suffered physical and psychological injuries. She continues to experience daily neck pain and headaches and her relationship with her children has been affected. The Trial Judge concluded that she will likely live for the rest of her life with neck pain and headaches.
Miles v. Kumar 2013 BCSC 1688
This case concerned the claim for personal injury damages resulting to a cyclist when he was struck by the Defendant driving a car. The collision knocked the Plaintiff off his bike, he then struck the hood and windshield of the Defendants car, ultimately landing on the road.
At the time of trial the Plaintiff was 42 years old. He is a public transit bus driver. He does not own a car, rather he relies on his bike for transportation. Prior to the accident he was very active and physically fit. With respect to psychological symptoms subsequent to the accident the Trial Judge noted that the Plaintiff since the accident had suffered from depression and has been on anti-depressant medication and he struggles with sleeplessness.
The expert evidence in this case came from Dr. William Koch, registered psychologist. Dr. Koch noted that the Plaintiff did not have a history of ongoing psychological distress. He diagnosed the Plaintiff as suffering from a major depressive disorder, chronic pain disorder and PTSD. Dr. Koch said that it is a rare patient who has PTSD occurring alone. Dr. Koch recommended a minimum of three years of psychotherapy and attendance at a multidisciplinary pain clinic.
The Trial Judge quoted from a portion of Dr. Kochs report where he set out the DSM rules for an event to qualify as a traumatic stressor. That quotation was as follows:
The Trial Judge found that the Plaintiff was at fault for the accident so he did not proceed to an analysis or quantification of the evidence regarding damages.
Rose Keith, BA JD - Author for above article on PTST and legal implications in injury awardsRoseKeith.bc.ca
Experienced representing individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents with a variety of injuries including:
· catastrophic traumatic brain injury
· spinal cord injury
· brain injury
· chronic pain
· psychological injuries
· soft tissue injuries
Focus is on ensuring full compensation for all losses suffered.
In 2008 she was the Trial Lawyers Assoc. of BC President
ROSE KEITH, Personal Injury Lawyer
Rose Keith, Barrister & Solicitor author of the above article is a content contributor to CanadaLegal.info.
A detailed profile of Rose is available on this site click here
A detailed street map to her offices in downtown Vancouver showing her location and its proximity to the Provincial and Supreme Court buildings is available click here
See also her web site at www.rosekeith.bc.ca
Twenty Questions to Ask - Before You Hire a Lawyer
An excellent Checklist for someone to use in selecting a lawyer, has been prepared by the publishers of www.lawyers-bc.com/tips.htm. You will find these guidelines useful for not just Employment Lawyers but other types of lawyers special services also.
Personal Injury Law as a Preferred Area of Practice
The Law Society of BC has lawyers who have stated a particular "preferred area of practice" Personal Injury Law is one of these P.A.P's.
Not all lawyers who advertise in: telephone directories; on the Web or in magazines have stated their Preferred Area of Practice with the Law Society of BC directory.
Web site Disclaimer
This site lists lawyers with areas of practice including Canada Citizenship and Immigration / Refugee Law - we advise you to verify if the lawyer is still maintaining their membership with the Law Society of BC by going to www.lawsociety.bc.ca as lawyers move or change areas of specialization over time.
The intent of this web-site is to provide "starting points" for people looking for sources of legal information and specialists. Information on this web site is not to be seen as legal advice -- for that you directly consult a lawyer.
This site is not endorsed by web sites to which it provides links to, unless otherwise noted, where a particular lawyer has volunteered to become a content contributor.
Errors or Omissions
If any lawyer-firm notes that we have made an error or omission in our mention of them on this web site, please send us email with the appropriate information.
Lawyers Special Listings & More Legal Information Websites