Thin Skulled Plaintiffs may be able to Collect on Chronic Pain

November 14th, 2011 by

When someone gets injured in an accident, any claim for damages must stem from injuries that resulted from the accident in question. In Heyward v. Young, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court case decided in 2011, the Plaintiff, who was injured after the defendant driver t-boned his car, suffered from severe migraine headaches, and an MRI of his head post-accident revealed residual scarring to the inferior frontal lobe. At trial, the Defendant produced evidence to support, on a balance of probabilities, the fact that the sustained brain injury had resulted from an unrelated assault on the Plaintiff 15 years prior to the accident.

The Plaintiff’s pre-existing susceptibility to brain injury, making him a “thin-skulled” plaintiff in legal jargon, removed the causation element required to prove that, but-for the motor vehicle accident, he would not have suffered the brain injury. However, the Plaintiff’s migraine headaches, which did materialize after the accident, and developed into long-term chronic pain syndrome, were recognized to be directly attributed to the accident in question. Despite the fact that a pre-existing condition may have exacerbated the chronic pain, the Plaintiff was still awarded a sizeable general damage award, as well as a modest future care award.


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