A B.C. man was recently awarded more than $130,000 after what appeared to be a very minor fender bender resulted in a significant drop in his mood and increase in his pain in subsequent years.
Thane Friesen was 75 years old with a history of health challenges when he was rear-ended while driving with his son through Kamloops in August 2018. Despite being jolted forward, the two determined the only damage to the vehicle were some scratches on the bumper.
In his later claim to the BC Supreme Court, Friesen said it wasn’t until the night of the accident that he started to feel pain in his upper back, shoulders and neck. From there, Friesen said the pain became “terrible,” he gained some weight, his mood turned “bad” and he was unable to return to his work as a real estate agent. He described himself as “a shell of his former self.”
He told the court he had planned to work until he was 80 “because I was broke, had made some bad investments and ended up in bankruptcy.” The pain made it too difficult for him to continue though, Friesen claimed.
He also said it has made household tasks extremely hard, and he can no longer walk his dog more than half a block before he has to turn back.
Friesen asked the court for $507,136 in damages.
The defendants pushed back, arguing Friesen had numerous health problems prior to the accident, that he was involved in another car crash after the fact, and that he was making very little as a real estate agent in his later years, lowering his lost earnings claim. They said they’d be willing to pay $43,071 to $68,071.
Based on testimony from a number of doctors, Justice Murray Blok determined in his June 27 decision that the 2018 accident “aggravated” Friesen’s pre-existing problems. Blok also found the accident caused new injuries to Friesen’s upper spine, left shoulder and left leg.
Expert testimony confirmed Friesen has suffered from anxiety, stress and depression since the accident, but Blok said he couldn’t determine that Friesen didn’t have cognitive problems prior to that.
Blok settled on $113,272 in damages, plus an undetermined amount to cover past lost earning capacity, which he left to Friesen and the defendants to determine themselves.
Of the total, $100,000 is for non-pecuniary damages, including past care, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of housekeeping abilities. Another $10,000 is for the cost of future care, and $3,272 for special damages.
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