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$185,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Severe Soft Tissue Injury With Nerve Irritation

Adding to this site’s soft tissue injury non-pecuniary database, reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with such an injury with nerve irritation and a poor prognosis.

In today’s case (Broad v. Clark) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2013 collision.  The defendant denied fault but was found fully liable at trial.  The crash caused a severe low back soft tissue injury which progressed into chronic pain with a poor prognosis.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $185,000 Madam Justice DeWitt-Van Oosten provided the following reasons:

[272]     I find that the soft tissue injury to the lower back was severe, leading to multiple and complex issues that have worsened in their cumulative impact since July 2014, including: mechanical low back pain; a painful lesion on her lower back that has grown; and, intermittent nerve irritation that causes pain to “shoot” down her legs, particularly the right leg.

[273]     I also find that the plaintiff is likely to be impacted by these conditions, in one form or another, for the entirety of her life.  The overall prognosis for improvement is poor.  The plaintiff presents as an unusual case, with multiple issues simultaneously affecting her lower back.  The lesion, in particular, appears to be a rarity.

[274]     The evidence establishes that the plaintiff’s life has been profoundly impacted by her lower back injury.  The video footage from May and June 2014, the Facebook photographs and Instagram postings do not persuade me to the contrary.  They represent moments in time.  The video footage predates the time at which the lower back injury took a turn for the worse.

[275]     The evidence, considered in its entirety, proves the existence of chronic pain and limitations to physical capacity that adversely impact the plaintiff’s emotional health; relationships with friends and family; her ability to physically engage with her children; intimacy with her partner; an incapacity to complete everyday tasks, including maintaining a household and meeting her children’s needs; and, the plaintiff’s physical struggles keep her out of the external work force and unable to achieve the independence and self-sufficiency goals that she set for herself.  She now spends a large portion of her life in pain and on the “sidelines”, unable to avail herself of opportunity for active engagement and advancement.  She is only 28.

[276]     In this sense, I agree with the plaintiff that her situation is analogous to (although not as severe as), Turner v. Dionne…

[284]     Recognizing that no two cases are ever exactly alike, after reviewing the authorities cited by the parties and applying the factors from Stapley v. Hejslet, it is my view that non-pecuniary damages within the context of the plaintiff’s individual circumstances are appropriately set at $185,000.

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