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$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Shoulder Injury

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a chronic shoulder injury.

In this week’s case (Milliken v. Rowe) the 37 year old plaintiff suffered a variety of injuries in a 2007 collision.  The Defendant motorist admitted fault.  The Plaintiff’s most serious injury resulted in chronic shoulder pain the cause of which was described as “one of two things or both in combination which include biceps tendonitis and AC joint antropathy“.

The Plaintiff endured a variety of medical interventions none of which meaningfully resolved her injury.  Surgery was expected to have no better than a 50/50 chance of improving her injury.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $85,000 Mr. Justice Davies made the following findings:

[65] I find that the totality of the evidence establishes that the neck and shoulder pain as well as the headaches, back pain and right leg pain which Ms. Milliken has suffered since August 2007 were caused by the defendant’s negligence…

[83] Ms. Milliken was 37 when she was injured. She suffered from injuries to her right hip and back that caused significant discomfort (primarily at work). The effects of those injuries were largely resolved within about two years.

[84] Ms. Milliken also, however, suffered from right shoulder pain that did not resolve and has now been ongoing for four years. The only potential end in sight for the amelioration of the pain and suffering concerning her right shoulder is invasive surgery with about an even chance of success. Whether successful or not, the proposed complex surgery will require an extensive period of recuperation of from 3 to 6 months.

[85] I find that the pain Ms. Milliken has endured has been debilitating.

[86] While she has worked through much of it of necessity, the cost to her of doing so has been great.

[87] Her life has become a one-dimensional one in which activities unrelated to work have largely had to be put aside. She no longer has the stamina or physical ability to care for her home as she previously did and has become socially reclusive because of that and her constant tiredness.

[88] Ms. Milliken is no longer able to play with her grandchildren as she once did due to pain and discomfort in her shoulder. She no longer participates in making crafts or enjoying recreational pursuits with her family.

[89] Her injuries have also exacerbated the physical challenges which she now faces in caring for her husband and that prevented her from taking on some of the work around the home and yard for which he was previously responsible…

[91] Ms. Milliken’s suffering will also not end with this litigation.

[92] At minimum she must endure complex shoulder surgery and a lengthy period of rehabilitation in which she will continue to be unable to enjoy life as she once did. Her likely future enjoyment of life is also compromised by the prospect that the surgery may be wholly or partially unsuccessful.

[93] The totality of the evidence satisfies me that there is no question that Ms. Milliken will continue to suffer pain and suffering as well as loss of her enjoyment of life at least until after rehabilitation from surgery to her shoulder.

[94] There is also a substantial likelihood that she will suffer ongoing pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment into the future after the shoulder surgery…

[105] I award Ms. Milliken non-pecuniary damages of $85,000.

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