Court awards young, pregnant mother with soft tissue injuries $90,000 in non-pecuniary damages

Ms. MacDougall was rear-ended while driving in Nanaimo in 2017. At the time of the accident, Ms. MacDougall was 19 years old and 29 weeks pregnant and her 5 year old daughter was in the back seat.

Background

Prior to the accident, Ms. MacDougall was a “caring and conscientious” mother. She enjoyed being active with her young daughter and often brought her with her on activities with her friends such as running, hiking, biking, and swimming.

Aftermath of the Accident

Following the accident, Ms. MacDougall was very concerned about the health of her baby and was panicking at the hospital because she could not feel her baby kick. Luckily, the fetal tests were normal but Ms. MacDougall suffered injuries to her neck and back. She also had ongoing headaches. Prior to the birth of her son, she was extremely anxious about his health, which caused her anxiety and prompted her to purchase a fetal monitor.

Due to her pain, she also found it difficult to bend over which made playing with her five year old hard. Ms. MacDougall had a constant headache and a painful neck which caused her to lay down most of the time. She relied on her mom and baby’s father to help with household chores. She also dealt with depression, which impacted her relationships. At the time of trial, Ms. MacDougall’s condition had improved save for some ongoing residual back pain, which she treated with physiotherapy.

In awarding Ms. MacDougall $90,000 in non-pecuniary damages, the court relied heavily on the “serious physical and psychological impact on Ms. MacDougall’s pregnancy and the neo-natal period.” The court noted the physical injuries impacted her ability to play with her daughter and baby and the psychological symptoms impacted her confidence and relationships. The non-pecuniary award took into consideration Ms. MacDougall’s reduced housekeeping capabilities and an in-trust award for her mother.

MacDougall v. McLellan, 2021 BCSC 163