Article edited by Walter W. Kubitz, KC, a personal injury lawyer in Calgary, Alberta.
What are psychological injuries including adjustment disorder with anxiety, depression, and somatic symptom disorder worth?
Answer: $130,000 to $145,000 for pain and suffering.
Ms. Client was stopped at a fast-food restaurant drive through. She had not yet placed her order when she felt a sudden jolt: she had been hit from behind by another car that rolled forward into her. At the time of the impact, Ms. Client was slightly turned to the left. The jolt of the impact moved her body and she bounced forward. Her back came off the seat and then went back onto the seat, and her right rib hit the seat bolster. She was wearing her seatbelt at the time.
Ms. Client felt okay and drove home. The next day, she started to have stiffness in her right middle back and went to her family doctor within a few days.
There was no damage to either vehicle.
Overall, the Collison caused the Client to sustain:
- Psychological injury, including adjustment disorder with anxiety, depression, and somatic symptom disorder;
- Increased frequency of migraine headaches;
- Injury to her neck, shoulders, and upper back;
- Numbness in her right arm;
- Injury to her chest wall, including a dislocated right rib;
- Disturbed sleep; and
- Chronic pain.
The most analogous case overall to Client ’s case is Brundige v. Bolton, 2018 BCSC 1843,  BCJ No 3480. The 46-year-old female plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident; she had pre-existing emotional damage. Her accident left her with chronic pain in her back and hip, as well as mental injuries in the form of adjustment disorder, depression, and somatic symptom disorder. Butler J awarded her $176,550 in general damages (inflation adjusted).
The most analogous Alberta case is Mason v. Thompson, 2020 ABQB 76. The plaintiff was injured in two separate motor vehicle accidents; although seemingly healthy, his spine had considerable arthritic changes present that had the potential to become symptomatic. After the second accident, the plaintiff was left with headaches, upper neck and back pain, troubled sleep, impaired memory, and depression: he had chronic pain. Macleod J awarded the plaintiff $171,930 (inflation adjusted).
Another very similar case to Client ’s situation is Watts v. Lindsay, 2019 BCSC 2239, 2019 CarswellBC 3841. The 30-year-old female plaintiff had no pre-existing injuries when she was injured in a motor vehicle accident. She sustained chronic pain in her neck, back, shoulders, among other areas; she was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, chronic PTSD, and a somatic symptom disorder. Marzari J awarded the plaintiff $168,000 in general damages.
Other analogous cases set the damage award for plaintiffs with similar injuries to Client ’s, inflation adjusted, from a high of $183,750 to a low of $82,125, with an overall average amount of general damages awarded of $146,500. The average amount of damages awarded in similar Alberta cases was $130,500, inflation adjusted. Therefore, it seems likely that Client ’s general damage award should range around $130,000 – $145,000.