“Whiplash”, which is commonly defined as neck and back pain caused by rapid and uncontrolled movement of the head, is one of the most common injuries people sustain in motor vehicle accidents. People often dismiss these injuries as minor or temporary. However, as in this Supreme Court of British Columbia case, whiplash injuries can often develop into chronic and disabling injuries that can impact personal and professional lives:
At the time of her motor vehicle accident the plaintiff in this case was a 46 year old certified general accountant. She sustained soft tissue injuries to her neck and back, which developed into a chronic pain syndrome with resulting psychological injuries. The courts ruled that not only was the plaintiff likely to continue experiencing physical pain, but her symptoms had escalated to the point they were likely to cause a “real and substantial possibility” of the plaintiff losing income in the future.
The plaintiff in this case was awarded $425,000 for future loss of earning capacity. When calculating how much this case was worth, the judge looked at the plaintiff’s earning salary before her injury and then used a mathematical approach based on an estimation of her ability to earn income after her injuries. This case illustrates how difficult it is to judge the value of a case early on. No one could have predicted that the plaintiff’s whiplash injury would have developed into such a serious issue. Had the plaintiff not sought proper legal advice or settled her case too early she may have been left with no compensation for future losses.