Thin skull plaintiff develops chronic pain and depression from multiple car accidents.

October 28, 2011, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

In a British Columbia case the Superior Court dealt with a plaintiff that was injured in two car accidents, approximately 2 years apart, in 2004 and 2006. As a result of the two car accidents the injured party suffered chronic pain, soft tissue injuries and a depressive disorder. She became extremely irritable, angry and hypercritical. She needed assistance with housekeeping, child care and exercising. She had been involved in a car accident three years prior to the first of the two car accidents, in 2001, and suffered some soft tissue injury and pain in the right side of her neck and mid back which flared up occasionally but did not restrict her activities. The plaintiff had some improvement after her 2004 car accident but still had some pain and restricted movement in her right shoulder and neck. She was pregnant at the time of the 2006 car accident. She was 47 years old and married with two children. Prior to all the car accident she was in good health and very active. She had university degrees in commerce and computer science but was not working at the time of the car accidents. It was the insurer’s position that the car accidents simply aggravated a pre-existing condition. 

The court felt that the plaintiff’s pre accident injuries and the fact that she was a young mother who was also pregnant at the time of the 2004 and 2006 car accidents made her a thin-skull plaintiff. The court also held that but for the two accidents she would not have developed chronic pain or depression. The plaintiff’s credibility was very important to the court. When considering the evidence of the plaintiff the court determined that the plaintiff was credible:
When the plaintiff moved around the courtroom during the trial, and when she testified, I saw a plaintiff who seemed to behave in a way which appeared consistent with the diagnosis of the medical experts.  For example, in terms of mood when watching the proceedings, the plaintiff often leaned forward with her face in her hands, or fidgeted and moved all about the courtroom.  When testifying, she appeared easily irritated by questions, becoming sharp and dismissive in her tone (including with her own counsel); she seemed unaware of how her demeanour could appear to others; she could not follow questions that required concentration, and she easily became frustrated.  As an example of the latter, she had to be repeatedly told what tab number and page number a document was to be found as she could not retain this information.  She seemed to be unable to quickly change focus. 
The plaintiff’s cranky and frustrated demeanour at trial was inconsistent with what one would expect from someone with her employment and education history pre-Accidents, where she functioned at a high level and got along well with others.  Her demeanour at trial seemed entirely consistent with the medical diagnosis and explanation of depression.
Posted under Personal Injury, Car Accidents, Chronic Pain, Pain and Suffering

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