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Q
How much is my mild to moderate whiplash injury worth?

A

Every case is different, and no lawyer can give an opinion on the value of a case without knowing all the facts of that specific case. That said, injury lawyers are guided by awards made by courts in similar cases. Terry v. Mullowney, 2009 NLTD 56 (CanLII) is an example of an assessment of damages in a case of mild to moderate whiplash injury. See if you think your situation is similar:

[160] On the whole, I am satisfied that the plaintiff suffered a moderate whiplash injury in the first motor vehicle accident on 6 November, 2001, which caused him neck and back pain but which settled down for the most part by August 2002 and then a less serious whiplash injury in the March 2003 motor vehicle accident which settled down within a few month. Each accident exacerbated pre-existing conditions including the thoracic outlet syndrome and the spondylolisis and spondylolisthesis. I have not been convinced, however, on a balance of probabilities that the plaintiff still suffers from these injuries, although his thoracic outlet syndrome is permanent.

The court was not convinced that the plaintiff, in 2008, still suffered from the above injuries. The court concluded with the following:

[164] The plaintiff has suffered a mild to moderate whiplash injury which exacerbated his thoracic outlet syndrome for a few months. He may have occasional flare-ups of pain and discomfort if he overexerts himself. He has not proved that these injuries have prevented him from pursuing his career as a mechanic or that they have diminished his earning capacity. Neither has he proven a need for future care or that he has a diminished housekeeping capacity.

[165] I therefore award the plaintiff $40,000 in general damages for pain and suffering and loss of amenities of life arising out of both motor vehicle accidents.

In another recent decision of our courts, Prowse v. Stockley, 2009 NLTD 90 (CanLII), the plaintiff was awarded $45,000 plus pre-judgment interest for soft tissue injuries which caused considerable pain, suffering and reduced mobility for "several" years - one expert witness had suggested five to seven years - before he otherwise would have suffered the symptoms. The trauma of jumping into the cab of his truck to avoid being struck by the oncoming vehicle accelerated the plaintiff's pre-existing degenerative disc disease, and aggravated the totality of the condition. Although the plaintiff had asked for a general damages award for pain and suffering and loss of amenities of $96,700, which represented the inflation-adjusted top of the range in Newfoundland and Labrador for damages for soft tissue injuries, the judge gave an award more toward the low middle of the range.

Two points to take away from these examples are (1) all kinds of facts can be relevant to the assessment of damages and (2) in all but the simplest cases, you will benefit from hiring a skilled injury lawyer to help you with your claim.

Ches Crosbie
Personal Injury Lawyer at Ches Crosbie Barristers

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