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$75,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Probably Permanent Soft Tissue Injuries

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, assessing damages for chronic and probably permanent soft tissue injuries.

In today’s case (McColm v. Street) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2014 collision.  Fault was admitted.  The crash resulted in injury to the Plaintiff’s neck, back and shoulder.  Symptoms persisted to the time of trial.  The court noted while there was a possibility the symptoms would improve in the future it was more likely that complete recovery would not occur.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $75,000 Madam Justice Warren provided the following reasons:

[86]         I have concluded that as a result of the accident, Mr. McColm has suffered pain and a loss of enjoyment of life, which will continue, to some extent, into the foreseeable future and from which he is unlikely to ever fully recover.

[87]         As a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident, Mr. McColm suffered from severe pain in his neck, back and right shoulder, with associated severe headaches, for several months.  The symptoms gradually improved, but the first year after the accident was marked by significant discomfort and functional limitations.  Although the pain and other symptoms have continued to gradually improve, he has been left with ongoing sporadic pain, particularly in his shoulder.  While there is a possibility that he will continue to improve and even fully recover, it is more likely than not that his current condition is permanent.

[88]         Mr. McColm’s pain is exacerbated by certain physical activities and by heavy lifting.  The pain has resulted in the recurrence of Mr. McColm’s difficulties sleeping.  It has also affected his mood and his lifestyle.

[89]         Before the accident, Mr. McColm’s mood was good and he enjoyed spending time with Ms. Marshall and his other friends.  He maintained a very active lifestyle and enjoyed many physical activities, including fishing, camping, kayaking, cycling, and snowboarding, as well as playing hockey, soccer, golf, and disc golf.  I accept his evidence that he was a particularly daring snowboarder.  This was corroborated by Mr. Edwards and Mr. Butler.  He also played the guitar.  For the first few weeks after the accident he was largely bedridden.  Since then he has gradually returned to some physical activity but he has not been able to return to many of the more extreme physical activities, such as snowboarding and team sports.  He has been depressed and somewhat socially isolated.  His relationship with Ms. Marshall ended, although the evidence was too vague to support specific findings about the extent to which this was caused by the injuries he sustained in the accident.

[90]         The most significant of the Stapley factors in this case are Mr. McColm’s age, the impairment of his physical abilities and associated loss of lifestyle, and his emotional suffering.  Mr. McColm is relatively young and faces the prospect of a lifetime of sporadic pain and associated functional limitations.  He has had to settle for a much more routine or mundane recreational life than he enjoyed before the accident.  The pain, functional limitations, and loss of lifestyle have caused emotional suffering linked to social isolation and some degree of angst about his future…

[94]         Having considered all the authorities and the factors discussed in Stapley, I assess Mr. McColm’s non-pecuniary damages at $75,000.

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