The recent decision of Parhar v. Clarke demonstrates the manner in which damages for pain and suffering are assessed following an injury such as a motor vehicle accident.  The damages that are awarded are meant to put the plaintiff back in the position that they would have been in if they had not been injured.  Damages for pain and suffering, or non pecuniary damages, are meant to compensate a plaintiff for the intangible loss that occurs due to the pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that accompany an injury.

In Parhar v. Clarke  the plaintiff was 36 years old at the time of her trial.  She was injured in three car accidents, the first of which occurred over eight years prior to trial.  The second and third accidents occurred two years later.  Mr. Justice Pearlman’s findings with respect to the injuries suffered by the plaintiff is found in paragraphs 173 – 177 of the decision where he states as follows:

[173]  All of the medical experts who opined on the plaintiff’s physical injuries agree that as a result of the first and second motor vehicle accidents, the plaintiff sustained myofascial injuries to her neck, shoulder girdle and back, which were temporarily aggravated by the third accident.  I find that but for the defendants’ negligence, Ms. Parhar would not have suffered those injuries.

[174]  I also find that Ms. Parhar suffered a traumatic TOS injury that had its onset in the first accident and was aggravated by the second accident.

[175]  But for the second accident, the plaintiff would not have suffered the injury to her right hip or the tinnitus which troubled her following that event.  I also find that the plaintiff’s mechanical low back pain was caused by the defendant’s negligence.

[176]  The second accident was also the cause of Ms. Parhar’s significant and persistent TMJ dysfunction and pain.  Although the clinical record shows that when Ms. parhar saw Dr. Saleeb in April 2007 he noted the plaintiff had right side TMJ, I find that but for the second accident, the plaintiff would not have suffered the chronic TMJ pain that continues to trouble her.

[177]  While Ms. Parhar was vulnerable to a recurrence of depression and trauma induced anxiety, I find that but for the accidents of November 19, 2008, August 25, 2009 and October 2, 2010 she would not have sustained the persistent major depressive disorder, chronic pain disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and chronic PTSD which she has endured over the past eight years.

Damages for pain and suffering were assessed at $110,000 after a finding of significant impact on Ms. Parhar’s life as a result of her injuries and the likelihood that she would never make a full recovery but rather would continue to experience neck and back pain, anxiety and depressive moods indefinitely.