Reasons for judgment were released yesterday in Shongu v. Jin, 2016 BCSC 901 (“Shingu”) by Mr. Justice Sewell. The plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident in 2012; one of the injuries claimed as being caused by the accident was Schizophrenia.
The plaintiff was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and witnessed numerous atrocities while growing up there, including his father’s murder and an attempt at his own life. As a result of these experiences, the plaintiff developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) and experienced symptoms of Schizophrenia.
By the time the plaintiff came to reside in Canada, most of his psychiatric symptoms had subsided. That is, until the accident occurred.
At trial, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s psychiatric symptoms existed prior to the accident such that he would have experienced a psychiatric relapse regardless of whether he was injured in the accident or not. The plaintiff argued otherwise.
The Court found, on a balance of probabilities, that the plaintiff’s post accident medical state was the result of pre-accident psychiatric vulnerability and that there was a substantial connection between the injuries he suffered and his present symptoms. The Court concluded, therefore, that the defendant was liable for the full extent of the plaintiff’s damages. The Court awarded over $1 Million dollars to the plaintiff for his losses.
Shongu demonstrates the importance of proving a causal link between the accident and the injuries suffered. Had the plaintiff not succeeded in doing so, it is unlikely the damages award would have been as significant.