November 26th, 2015
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for chronic neck and back pain caused by a vehicle collision.
In today’s case (Tourand v. Charette) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 rear end collision that the Defendant accepted responsibility for.
The Plaintiff suffered chronic neck and back pain as a result with symptoms lingering at the time of trial and expected to continue into the future. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $100,000 Mr. Justice Joyce provided the following reasons:
 It is true that there were occasions in the past when the plaintiff experienced episodes of neck, shoulder and back pain, for which she received chiropractic treatments. Some of these episodes were associated with prior motor vehicle accidents and others appear to have been brought on by the physical activities in which she engaged, including her participation in karate. However, I am satisfied, on the whole of the evidence, that prior to the Accident the plaintiff was not experiencing the kind of chronic pain and symptomology in her neck and low back that she has experienced since the Accident in question. I am satisfied that the causal connection between her present symptomology neck and low back and the Accident has been established. In short, but for the Accident the plaintiff would not be in the physical condition that she now finds herself.
 Ms. Tourand plaintiff had some pre-existing degenerative changes in her neck and low back, but I am satisfied that her current symptoms are not due simply to the progression of that degeneration. Rather they are due to either an aggravation of a pre-existing condition or to trauma that has made symptomatic that which was not previously symptomatic.
 I accept that in the years before the Accident, the plaintiff was a physically active, social person, who enjoyed life and was enjoyable to live with and be around. I find on the basis of the evidence of her husband and friends that she is now a very different person. The Accident has negatively impacted her ability to enjoy physical activity and perform former household management tasks to the same extent as before. It has led to difficulty sleeping, depression and has affected her marital relationship.
 On the other hand, I also find that the other life events that the plaintiff has endured since the Accident, in particular, the difficulties that her children experienced and with which she has been integrally involved, have probably contributed to the severity and prolongation of her symptoms.
 Ms. Tourand is not, however, incapacitated. She can still manage most of her household chores, with moderation and careful sequencing of the tasks. There seems to be consensus among the experts that Ms. Tourand is capable of some employment, provided it does not involve heavy physical tasks and provided she is not required to either sit or stand in one position for a prolonged period of time.
 I am also of the view that it is probable that the plaintiff’s physical capacity and general well-being will improve if she becomes more active, including: engaging in a program involving further physiotherapy under the direction of a kinesiologist or physiotherapist, swimming and psychotherapy to deal with the emotional affects of her symptoms. In my view, based upon a consideration of all of the evidence, it is still open to the plaintiff to accept that advice and follow that treatment path; and that, if she does so, she can expect to achieve some further reduction in her symptomology and improvement in her functioning and enjoyment of life…
 Considering the nature of the chronic pain caused by the motor vehicle Accident; the poor prognosis for anything like a full recovery; the relatively young age of the plaintiff; and the effects that the symptoms have had and will likely continue to have on the quality of her life in the future, I assess non-pecuniary damages at $100,000.