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War survivor awarded more than $1M by B.C. judge for crash that worsened PTSD

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May 25, 2016 - 9:30 AM

VANCOUVER - A judge has awarded a man who survived war in the Democratic Republic of Congo more than $1 million for a car crash that exacerbated his post-traumatic stress disorder.

British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Robert Sewell said in his written decision that Olivier Yewa Shongu led a difficult life before he came to Canada as a refugee in 2005.

"Shongu witnessed his father and other family members being killed. He also narrowly avoided his own murder," Sewell said.

Court documents show the man experienced nightmares, hallucinations, social phobia and panic, and was diagnosed with PTSD.

He moved to Vancouver, sought treatment for his condition and was living a happy, active life when he was involved in a car crash in Richmond, B.C., in July 2012.

Sewell said in his decision that a number of doctors testified about Shongu's physical and mental health both before and after the crash.

They found the incident left Shongu with various physical injuries, including whiplash, soft tissue damage, headaches and chronic pain.

After the collision, he also reported nightmares and daytime hallucinations of people wanting to kill him and visions of his family being killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which were treated with anti-psychotic drugs.

Shongu's psychiatric condition improved, but Sewell's said the man's life is now "markedly different" because he cannot work or help his wife with child care, and suffers from fears of being touched and being in public places.

"There is no doubt that the accident has had a profound impact on Mr. Shongu’s life. He can no longer participate in many activities that formerly gave him pleasure and satisfaction," Sewell wrote.

Li Jing, who was driving the other car involved in the collision, denied liability for the crash and argued that Shongu's injuries were from a pre-existing condition.

Sewell disagreed, and found Li solely responsible for the accident.

The judge said he was satisfied there was a connection between the collision and Shongu's present condition, and ruled that Li must pay $1,080,000 in damages.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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