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Nova Scotia Supreme Court Awards Damages for PTSD

Posted by Mike Brooker, Q.C. on 10 April 2014

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In March 2014, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia (in Trenholm v. H & C Trucking Ltd) awarded damages to a woman who was present and witnessed a motor vehicle / pedestrian accident in which one of her friends was killed and another injured. The decision was one of the first of its kind in Nova Scotia.

 

The accident occurred on August 22,2003. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was walking with her friends along the side of the highway after their vehicle broke down. She witnessed a transport truck strike her two friends killing one instantly and injuring the other. She was not struck by the truck and did not suffer a physical injury but she developed post traumatic stress and associated depression as a consequence of the accident.

 

At trial, the plaintiff sought damages for her injuries in the approximate amount of $750,000 plus interest and costs. The defendants suggested that damages should be limited to no more than $30,000. The Nova Scotia Supreme Court awarded damages in the amount of $101,000 ($75,000 in general damages, $20,000 for loss of income and $3,000 to each of her parents on a quantum meruit basis) plus interest calculated over a six year period.

 

The key considerations in the case included the fact that the plaintiff actually witnessed the accident, knew the parties that were involved in the accident and was able to establish to the satisfaction of the court (after a twenty day trial spanning six months) that she suffered from post traumatic stress and associated depression as a consequence of the accident.