How my brain injury affected my spouse
If you are the spouse of a person who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, Will Davidson LLP would like to share a few words of encouragement with you during this difficult time. We understand that it is a very difficult journey, to say the least.
A client recently told us that although her husband had fractured his spine and lives with daily pain and physical disability, his brain injury is by far the more serious injury. It changed their relationship forever. Her husband was not the same man she married. The man she married was very physical; very proud of his ability to play ball; very proud of his ability to work and earn a living; very proud of his ability to be a good husband. After his brain injury, he slept on the couch because of difficulty sleeping. He was too sore to do much of anything. The man she married was someone she could talk to. They talked about work, the kids, the family, their dreams.
After the brain injury, they talked about missed birthday parties for the kids, how he overspent on groceries by mistake, or about how he was feeling. Or they just didn’t talk. She had to keep life simple for him and protect him from sources of conflict. She had to shoulder most of the responsibility as household manager. She had to do the thinking and planning for both of them.
These situations are never fair, of course, but there is help available. Besides staying in touch with the injured spouse’s caregivers, the spouse can obtain the assistance of a psychologist who can offer not only individual counselling, but couple counselling as well. Marriages have been saved and strengthened by these trained professionals. Often these professionals can also address the needs of the children as they, too, are struggling with a very different brain-injured parent.
Caregivers and counsellors understand the loss suffered by the spouse of a brain injured individual. It is encouraging to see that judges and juries also understand the loss. Ontario’s Family Law Act allows family members to recover damages for loss of the injured person’s guidance, care and companionship. Consider the following cases and the damages awarded to the spouse:
|Soares v. Costa, 2007 CarswellOnt 1502 (S.C.J.).||A forklift operator was injured in a brutal assault. He suffered memory loss, headaches, sleep and speech disruption, fatigue, emotional distress and depression. His wife suffered both a loss of guidance, care and companionship, but also mental distress.||$25,000
|Frazer v. Haukioja, 2010 CarswellOnt 1966 (Ont. C.A.).||Husband was injured in a motor vehicle accident, but then also suffered medical negligence. He became focused on the medical negligence. His relationship with his wife deteriorated. He was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and depressive, emotional states. He became stressed and irritable. He no longer wanted to go out, rarely answered the phone and did not want to talk about his problems. The couple no longer discussed their future. The wife suffered a severe loss of guidance, care and companionship.||$50,000|
|Degennaro v. Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, 2009 CarswellOnt 3882 (S.C.J.).||Wife was seriously injured when she fell to the floor after a fold-out bed collapsed under her. She developed chronic pain. She had difficulty sleeping and experienced emotional turmoil. She lost hope, became distressed and anxious. She could not enjoy holidays with her family. Conjugal relations became limited and ultimately ceased. Her marriage became strained to the point that she and her husband separated.||$65,000|
|Thornhill (Litigation Guardian of) v. Shadid, 2008 CarswellOnt 517 (S.C.J.).||A thirty-year-old nurse sustained a very serious knee injury in a motor vehicle accident. She previously led a very active lifestyle and had many goals in life. Because of her injuries she was forced to set the lifestyle and her goals aside. She developed reactive depression, and her relationship with her husband was put under severe strain.||$35,000|
|Chan v. Erin Mills Town Centre, 2005 CarswellOnt 6741 (Ont. S.C.J.).||Husband, a doctor, age 52, slipped and fell, fracturing his patella on his one good leg. He developed Post Polio Syndrome and steadily deteriorated, not only physically but mentally. His personality and mood changed. He had difficulty interacting with family and friends. His wife suffered a dramatic loss of his guidance, care and companionship.||$50,000|
These are just several examples, and they do not all relate directly to brain injuries. They do show, however, that our courts are prepared to address the special kind of loss suffered by the spouse of an injured person.
To the spouse of a brain injured person, the damages appear to be low, but it is a start. We understand the unbelievable courage, dedication and loyalty it takes to be there for a spouse who has suffered a traumatic brain injury. As the spouse and unsung hero in a brain-injured person’s life, you deserve to be compensated.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer at Will Davidson LLP
If you or a spouse has been injured and experienced a traumatic brain injury, Will Davidson LLP is here to assist you with the recovery process. We have brain injury lawyers in Toronto and across our 8 other locations in Ontario Burlington, Huntsville, Lindsay, Markham, Midland, Orillia, Oakville and Whitby, who understand what you are going through and will work with you to develop an action plan to receive the compensation you and your family deserve. The road to recovery is never easy; however, let us start the journey with you. Contact us today at 1-866-840-9002 to request a free, no-obligation consultation and speak to a lawyer about your options.