December 9th, 2016
Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for the permanent aggravation of a pre-existing injury.
In today’s case (Churath v. Cheema) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2011 rear end collision. Prior to this the Plaintiff suffered a disc injury to his spine which required surgical correction and was well on the way to recovery. The collision caused an aggravation of the injury the effects of which were likely permanent. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $125,000 Mr. Justice Affleck provided the following reasons:
 I make the following findings of fact:
a) the plaintiff suffered a low back injury while playing volleyball in 2010, which caused a serious disc herniation. Prior to that event he had been symptom-free in his low back;
b) the plaintiff’s surgery following the volleyball incident was successful. He was making a steady recovery and in due course would have become largely if not entirely symptom-free but for the car accident;
c) the car accident caused the injuries and symptoms from the volleyball incident to recur. The plaintiff’s current disability is largely explained by the car accident injuries;
d) the injury from the volleyball incident and from the car accident is an indivisible injury and division is neither possible or appropriate: Athey at para. 25;
e) the plaintiff has continuing moderate pain and disability. He can walk adequately and drive a car although with some discomfort. His physical symptoms have diminished his employability, but he is capable of regular employment which makes only light demands on his physical capacities;
f) the plaintiff’s employment with Allegra was ending because of changing technology in the printing industry. The plaintiff is not capable of retraining for that industry. He has a limited education, limited English language skills and minimal computer literacy. The Allegra job would have ended within a maximum of five years from the time of the car accident, even if it had not happened. The plaintiff thereafter would have made a small income using the offset printer at his home if he had not had the car accident. He remains capable of earning a small income by that means; and
g) the car accident injuries are permanent, but when this litigation ends the plaintiff will become more active…
 The plaintiff was about 46 years old at the time of the car accident. The injuries were severe and led to surgery. He will not recover entirely. There inevitably has been emotional suffering and distress. The relationship with his family, perhaps particularly with his wife, has been impaired, but I do not consider that will be permanent.
 The plaintiff continues to have some disability. I have found that it is not as extensive as he wants this Court to believe. I am satisfied he can exercise reasonably vigorously; he can walk for extended periods of time; he can perform chores around his home, and he can lift heavier weights than the 20 pound bag of flour which he testified he could not lift.
 I assess non-pecuniary general damages at $125,000.