Judge awards $90,000 for pain & suffering for ongoing balance problems called visual vestibular mismatch after a car accident

Mr. Justice Myers wrote in his April 20, 2015 reasons for judgement:

“Ms. Miolla was treated by an otolaryngologist, or ear nose and throat specialist, Dr. Miller.  She was also tested extensively by Dr. Longridge who specialises in otology — a subspecialty of otolaryngology focussing on balance disorders.

Dr. Longridge concluded that Ms. Miolla suffered from vestibular mismatch.  In his direct evidence he briefly described that as a disorder where information from the ear and eyes regarding movement fail to gel, which creates a confusion that in turn creates imbalance, nausea, light-headedness and vertigo.

A longer explanation was provided in his report:

Visual Vestibular Mismatch refers to a condition… Where there is a lot of movement around the individual this causes confusion, distress and dizzy symptoms. The reason for this dizzy symptomatology is that the information from the balance system of the ear, as the patient is moving, does not synchronize or mesh with the information that the patient receives from their own vision resulting in awareness that there is a difference between the two and a sensation of dizziness is produced. Particular situations where this occurs are ones with a lot of movement. Characteristically rippling water and also the standard situation of a lot of movement in a supermarket or shopping mall produces awareness of dizziness. Complaints of dizziness caused by checkered floors, busy carpets or patterned tiles is seen. Dislike of elevators and escalators, which caused dizziness is common. Busy television programs, such as car chases and hockey games cause dizziness. Scrolling a computer causes dizziness. The bright light in these circumstances is frequently complained of. People around the patient are moving relatively indiscriminately and this results in a dizzy sensation.
He concluded that this was caused by the accident:

… There are measured abnormalities on balance tests. She has an abnormal result on Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP), compatible with a disturbance involving the balance system of the inner ear. This is an objective test. She has an abnormal Ocular Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (OVEMP) test with an abnormality on the left side. This is an objective test. OVEMP measure the macula of the utricle, one of the gravity detecting organs of the inner ear.

Dr. Longridge recommended ongoing vestibular physiotherapy.  He said that if the treatments cease, the patient will, to a certain extent, relapse.

[Dr. Longridge concluded:

This patient has a disturbance of her balance system. As she ages it is probable that she is more likely to run into difficulties with balance and unsteadiness than someone who has not had the insult to her balance system which she has incurred…

My experience with dizziness and imbalance is that if it is present for two years, in my opinion, it is likely to be present on a long-term, permanent basis.”

The judge also made awards for past loss of income, loss of future earning capacity, out of pocket expenses called special damages and cost of future care.

See Miolla v. Fick 2015 BCSC 616

Also see on our website answers to 8 questions about dizziness following a vehicle accident: