Court awards $350,000 to food service worker for future loss of income.
Purewal v. Uriarte 2020 BCSC 1798
The Reasons for Judgment of The Honourable Madam Justice W. A. Baker were given on November 23rd, 2020, at Victoria, British Columbia.
On May 16, 2016, 32-year-old Davinder Kaur Purewal was driving her vehicle on Peatt Road in Langford, BC. She was stopped at a red light when her vehicle was struck from behind. Ms. Purewell suffered a number of myofascial injuries as a result of the accident. The defendant has admitted liability.
Ms. Purewal had been working at the Tim Hortons restaurant in the Victoria General Hospital since 2008. She was a member of the Hospital Employees Union and received wages in accordance with the collective agreement for that union, as well as benefits. At the time of the accident, she was a full-time employee. She is married and the mother of two children, ages 5 and 6 at the time of the accident. Ms. Purewal was responsible for 90 percent of the household chores. Her husband worked the afternoon/evening shift, so she was also responsible for the children after school and evenings – helping with homework, doing sports with them and taking them swimming and to the park. She enjoyed a full active life and a loving relationship with her husband and children. By all accounts Ms. Purewal was a very bubbly social person, hosting large parties of up to 50 people, and doing traditional cooking.
After the accident Ms. Purewal went to a walk-in clinic. She was lightheaded, in shock and her left neck and upper shoulder felt hot and achy. Over the next few days the pain continued and she started to get headaches. After about a week, her neck, shoulder and head pain were getting worse. Her sleep and mood were affected, and she was experiencing tingling and numbness in her left arm, down into her fingers. Her family doctor recommended time off work and physiotherapy. She subsequently had extensive and varied forms of treatment and rehabilitation. She saw a number of specialists and has taken more than 20 different pain medications and medications related to her psychological injuries.
Ms. Purewal obtained independent medical assessments from Dr. Donald Cameron, Neurologist, Dr. Aindrias O’Breasail, Psychiatrist, and Dr. John Armstrong, an expert in chronic pain with a neurologic foundation.
Dr. Cameron opined that “Ms. Purewal developed chronic pain in her neck, head, shoulders and upper back area, particularly on her left side…” he also found that she acquired a mild case of TOS. Under cross-examination Dr. Cameron testified that psychological injuries often occur later in the recovery process when the patient realizes that progress is not happening the way they hoped. This can lead to depression, anxiety, frustration and can develop into serious psychological issues. These psychological issues make the patient experience pain more severely. “These problems, coupled with her ongoing chronic pain and secondary sleep disorder due to chronic pain, have rendered Ms. Purewal incapable of returning to work in a competitive fashion at a job similar to the one she held at the time of the accident.”
Madam Justice Baker found the plaintiff forthright and honest in her testimony and she accepted Dr. Cameron’s opinion. She also relied on his opinion on a number of occasions when discussing assessment of an award for cost of future care.
Conclusion: Ms. Purewal is awarded the following damages:
Non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $80,000.00; Past loss of earning capacity – $117,800.00; Loss of future earning capacity – $350,000.00; Cost of future care – $65,400.00; Loss of housekeeping capacity – $20,000.00; Special damages – $12,884.00 – for a total award of $646,084.00
For further analysis and reporting of the decision, please download the linked PDF.