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$55,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Rotator Cuff Impingement Syndrome

Reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a rotator cuff injury caused by a motor vehicle collision.

In yesterday’s case (Lim v. Anderson) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2008 collision when the Defendant ran a red light.  Fault was admitted by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff suffered an impingement syndrome in her shoulder due to a rotator cuff injury caused by the crash.  She had some ongoing symptoms of pain and limitation at the time of trial.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $55,000 Madam Justice Fenlon provided the following reasons:

[7] There was a difference of opinion between Dr. Christian and the plaintiff’s treating orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Yu, as to the cause of the plaintiff’s ongoing shoulder pain. Dr. Yu attributes it to calcific tendonitis caused by the soft tissue injuries. In his view, with the injury there was bruising and swelling or hemorrhage into the rotator cuff giving rise to pain or an abduction and impingement syndrome. In this condition the tendon is pinched between the under surface of the acromion and the humeral head, resulting in pain on movement…

[9] While it is not really necessary to choose between the opinions on causation, given the agreement on ongoing residual pain in the shoulder, I prefer Dr. Yu’s diagnosis…

[10] I accept his finding that the plaintiff’s response to an injection into the subacromial space of her right shoulder, (temporary relief from pain), confirmed his diagnosis…

[38] The biggest impact on Ms. Lim in terms of loss of enjoyment of life is her inability to cook using a wok, to do the vacuuming and heavy housework she used to do to keep her home in the meticulous order she enjoyed and to do her own gardening and yard work. Her co-workers describe a woman who is less cheerful than she used to be and is often sore and uncomfortable at work. She can no longer pour tea when they go for dim sum together, something she always did before the accident.

[39] There is medical evidence that suggests that the plaintiff’s soft tissue injuries may further improve with exercise over time, although the evidence supports a finding that her shoulders will not likely improve in future.

[40] Taking into account all of the Stapley factors, I find that an award of $55,000 for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life is appropriate.

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