The Chisholm v Lindsay decision was released by the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary on February 3, 2012.
On April 22, 2005 Catherine Chisholm was sitting in the driver’s seat of her vehicle, eating her lunch. Her vehicle was parked in a designated parking space at a shopping mall, the engine was off and she was not wearing her seatbelt. Her vehicle was struck from behind by Noreen Lindsay’s vehicle, which was travelling between 33 and 41 km/h. Ms. Chisholm’s vehicle then struck the vehicle parked in front of her and then struck another vehicle parked on the right. Ms. Chisholm immediately suffered from slight dizziness and weakness, along with facial pain and swelling. As she also had slight abnormalities in blood pressure and pulse rate, the EMT who responded decided to transport Ms. Chisholm by ambulance to the hospital for a further checkup.
At the time of the accident, Ms. Chisholm was 31 years old and working full time as a special education teacher. After the accident Ms. Chisholm was not able to do as many activities, and had trouble processing information. She also suffered from remittent pain when she performed activities. The accident also caused right knee pain, weakness, laxity and dysfunction. As a result, she required physiotherapy, massage and exercise programs and possibly arthroscopy in the future.
Prior to her accident Ms. Chisholm’s dental history was unremarkable other than occasional jaw clicking. After the accident, she experienced headaches, sore teeth, difficulty chewing, and difficulty opening her mouth wide. She was diagnosed with temporomandibular pain and dysfunction and was prescribed a splint to wear at night to take pressure off the TM joint. Her doctor was of the view that she would probably have to wear an orthotic for the rest of her life.
Ms. Chisholm hired car accident lawyers in Calgary and sued Ms. Lindsay for the injuries she suffered as a result of the accident.
At trial, liability for the accident was admitted and thus sole issue was that of damages. An expert medical witness testified that he believed Ms. Chisholm had suffered from a mild traumatic brain injury and suffered symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Ms. Chisholm herself testified that her greatest difficulty was overwhelming fatigue.
In assessing damages, the court noted that Ms. Chisholm would not be able to return to full time work in the immediate future. She may be able to do so when her children are school age with proper pain management and appropriate psychological counselling, however with a correspinding 10-15% decrease in income. If her pain and other symptoms did not decrease, she would only be able to return to part time work and even that could be difficult for her.
The court awarded the following damages:
- $90,000 – General Damages for Pain and Suffering
- $4, 250 – Loss of Housekeeping Services
- $45, 000 – Cost of Future Medical Care
- $125,000- Loss of Income Earning Capacity