Issue was whether accident caused plaintiffs injuries entitling them to damages
In a recent case, Ontario’s Superior Court considered whether two plaintiffs sustained permanent serious impairments of important physical, mental or psychological functions caused by a motor vehicle collision, and ultimately awarded them around $880,000 in damages.
In Solanki v. Reilly, 2021 ONSC 6694, a man was driving his family from London, Ontario to Niagara Falls in December 2012. His mother was sitting immediately behind him when the defendant’s vehicle struck the vehicle on the front driver-side. It was a low-speed collision that resulted in minimal damage to both vehicles. The man was able to drive his family back home to London.
The plaintiffs – the man and his mother – felt sore when they went to bed and visited a hospital the next day. The man felt pain in his neck, right shoulder and lower back, radiating into his right leg. His mother had pain in her left shoulder, neck and back, as well as bruises on her chest. The plaintiffs eventually brought claims seeking damages for injuries under the Insurance Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. I.8, as amended.
For the man’s situation, he managed to work within three months of the incident. The court noted that he had to seek different positions within his company and eventually had to rely on assistance from his co-workers to continue working.
The court held that the man suffered permanent serious impairments of important physical, mental or psychological function as a result of the accident. His chronic pain syndrome and related mental health impairments frustrated his preferred career path as a security technician, the court said.
The court accepted a physiatrist’s opinion that the man’s chronic pain syndrome was caused by the collision. The court noted that, while the man had chronic back pain before the incident, these were discrete episodes. The court then accepted a psychologist’s opinion that the accident also caused the man’s major depressive disorder and somatoform disorder.
The court found that the man sustained a permanent impairment, given that his function did not improve despite years of treatment and rehabilitation interventions. The impaired function was important, the court said, considering that the man’s ability to perform essential employment activities and responsibilities and his participation in family and avocational activities were affected.
The court then discussed the situation of the man’s mother. The court ruled that the incident caused an exacerbation of her left shoulder arthritis, tenosynovitis, cartilage loss on the humeral head and chronic myofascial strain. Her left shoulder dysfunction was permanent but the pain on her neck and lower back was not.
The court found impairment of an important function because the mother could no longer do her usual housekeeping and self-care activities on her own. The court concluded that she suffered a permanent serious impairment of an important physical function due to the accident.
The court awarded the man general damages of $110,000, less a deductible of $39,754.31; past income loss of $111,180.24, less collateral benefits of $80,500; future income loss of $693,345; future care of $34,480, less accident benefits received of $27,500; housekeeping of $10,000; and special damages of $8,669.11.
The mother was awarded general damages of $85,000, less a deductible of $39,754.31; past care/housekeeping of $30,000 less accident benefits of $19,278.04; and special damages of $4,389.77.