BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog

Erik MagrakenThis Blog is authored by British Columbia personal injury lawyer Erik Magraken. Erik is a partner with the British Columbia personal injury law-firm MacIsaac & Company. He restricts his practice exclusively to plaintiff-only personal injury claims with a particular emphasis on claims involving orthopaedic injuries and complex soft tissue injuries. Please visit often for the latest developments in matters concerning BC personal injury claims and ICBC claims.

Erik Magraken does not work for and is not affiliated in any way with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Please note that this blog is for information only and is not claim-specific legal advice.  Erik can only provide legal advice to clients. Please click here to arrange a free consultation.

Posts Tagged ‘sacroiliac joint injury’

$35,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For SI Joint Injury With Flare-Ups; LVI Defence Rejected

April 27th, 2012

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for a sacroiliac joint injury caused by a motor vehicle collision.

In last week’s case (Bartel v. Milliken) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2008 collision.  Fault was admitted by the Defendant.  Although the Defendant challenged the Plaintiff’s credibility arguing she “is exaggerating her injuries and their effect” the Court rejected this submission and found the Plaintiff suffered various soft tissue injuries which continued to flare with activity.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $35,000 Madam Justice Gerow provided the following reasons:

[26] It is apparent from a review of the whole of the evidence that Ms. Bartel suffered injuries to her neck and back in the accident which had resolved for the most part by February 2009, although she was still experiencing intermittent pain in her sacroiliac joint areas. Since then she has had flare-ups, the October 2009 incident being the most significant. Although there is some evidence of ongoing shoulder problems, the evidence is that Ms. Bartel suffered from shoulder problems prior to the accident. There is insufficient evidence to conclude that her ongoing shoulder problems are as a result of the motor vehicle accident.

[27] Both Dr. Kelly and Dr. le Nobel are of the opinion that Ms. Bartel’s prospect for full recovery is guarded. However, Dr. le Nobel is of the opinion that Ms. Bartel may have significant improvement if not complete resolution of her symptoms with injections into her back and an exercise program.

[28] Based on the evidence, I have concluded that Ms. Bartel suffered a moderate soft tissue injury to her neck, back and sacroiliac joint which resolved for the most part within seven months with occasional flare-ups. The injuries Ms. Bartel suffered have restricted her ability to engage in gardening and walking in the manner she could prior to the motor vehicle accident. It is likely there will be ongoing restrictions on her gardening as a result of the injuries…

[35] Having considered the extent of the injuries, the fact that the symptoms were largely resolved within seven months with occasional flare-ups and the ongoing restrictions on Ms. Bartel’s gardening, as well as the authorities I was provided, I am of the view that the appropriate award for non pecuniary damages is $35,000.

Another noteworthy aspect of the judgement was the Court’s rejection of the so called LVI defence.  The Defendant argued that since there was modest vehicle damage the injury itself was modest.  In rejecting this submission the Court provided the following comments:

[23] Finally, the defendants point to the fact that the accident was not severe enough to cause the ongoing symptoms Ms. Bartel complains of. The defendants’ proposition that a low velocity accident cannot cause any significant injury to a plaintiff has not been accepted in a number of cases, including Gordon v. Palmer (1993), 78 B.C.L.R. (2d) 236 (S.C.); Lubick v. Mei, 2008 BCSC 555; and Jackman v. All Season Labour Supplies Ltd., 2006 BCSC 2053. As stated in Gordon at paras. 4 and 5:

I do not subscribe to the view that if there is no motor vehicle damage then there is no injury. This is a philosophy that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia may follow, but it has no application in court. it is not a legal principle of which I am aware and I have never heard it endorsed as a medical principle.

Significant injuries can be caused by the most casual of slip and falls. Conversely, accidents causing extensive property damage may leave those involved unscathed. The presence and extent of injuries are to be determined on the basis of evidence given in court. Objectivity is thus preserved and the public does not have to concern itself with extraneous philosophies that some would impose on the judicial process.

[24] Although the severity of the accident is a factor that should be taken into consideration when determining whether Ms. Bartel suffered injuries in the motor vehicle accident and the extent of those injuries, it is not determinative of either issue. Rather the whole of the evidence must be considered in determining those issues.


It is Unnecessary To "Label" Injuries In Pursuit of Proper Compensation

April 19th, 2012

When assessing damages in a tort claim, the labels attached to injuries are far less important than the actual consequences of the injuries.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating this in the context of a chronic pain case.

In this week’s case (Cantin v. Petersen) the Plaintiff was involved in an intersection collision in 2004.  Fault was admitted by the offending motorist.  The crash caused injuries resulting in chronic pain which persisted to the time of trial and was expected to continue indefinitely.  The medical labels attached to the injuries varied from ‘fibromyalgia‘ to ‘chronic pain syndrome‘.  The Plaintiff argued that “it is unnecessary to label the injuries” in the pursuit of lawful compensation.

Madam Justice Bruce accepted that, whatever the label, the Plaintiff’s symptoms were related to the collision and awarded the Plaintiff $150,000 in non-pecuniary damages.  In doing so the Court made the following findings:

[12] While there is generally a consensus among the medical experts regarding the initial diagnosis of Ms. Cantin’s injuries stemming from the accident, there is a considerable division of opinion as to the causes of her current complaints and symptoms. None of the physicians who examined Ms. Cantin and provided expert medical opinions doubted the veracity of her complaints of pain. The dispute among the experts lies in the cause of her current symptoms. While Ms. Petersen argues Ms. Cantin’s physicians have become advocates for her claim rather than independent experts, it is significant that none of the experts had any doubt that Ms. Cantin was suffering real and substantial pain symptoms. In addition, I cannot agree that Ms. Cantin’s physicians were advocates for her claim. They were passionate about their work in the field of chronic pain, and disagreed with the opinions of the defence experts concerning the cause of Ms. Cantin’s continuing symptoms. In my view, this does not render their opinions less reliable or less credible…

[22] There is no question that Ms. Cantin continues to suffer pain in her upper back, shoulders and neck. None of the medical experts believed she was fabricating her complaints or was malingering. There is no evidence of an intervening event that would break the chain of causation between the aggravation of Ms. Cantin’s chronic pain and the collision. The possibility that Ms. Cantin would have experienced the same symptoms in any event is a factor taken into account in determining damages; it is not relevant to causation. Thus I find that Ms. Petersen is liable for the continuing injury to Ms. Cantin’s upper back, shoulders and neck. A comparison of her condition before and after the accident will determine the quantum of damages and the extent of Ms. Petersen’s responsibility for Ms. Cantin’s present condition.

[23] Similarly, I find Ms. Petersen liable for Ms. Cantin’s continuing headache pain as these are causally connected to her chronic pain syndrome in her upper and lower body. The extent of Ms. Petersen’s responsibility will be determined by a comparison of Ms. Cantin’s past experience with headaches and her current experience…

[45] The soft tissue injuries occasioned by the accident have led to the development of serious, chronic pain in Ms. Cantin’s upper and lower spine, hips, and legs. Despite many types of therapy, she has continued to experience serious pain and a drastic reduction in her functional mobility for almost eight years since the accident. Ms. Cantin has lost the ability to work in a competitive labour market; she has no social life outside her home and her relationship with family members has deteriorated substantially as a result of her constant pain and mental distress. She is unable to achieve restful sleep; has suffered a cognitive decline in memory; and has become a social recluse. Her prognosis for any level of recovery is extremely guarded.

[46] While I believe the quantum of damages suggested by Ms. Cantin, adjusted for inflation, is more reflective of her loss than the range posited by Ms. Petersen, a lower amount is appropriate given the risks inherent in her pre-existing condition. Therefore, I award $150,000 in general damages for pain and suffering.


$50,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Left Sided SI Joint Injury

February 21st, 2012

Reasons for Judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a chronic low back injury following a motor vehicle collision.

In last week’s case (Connolly v. Cowie) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 rear-end collision.  Fault was admitted by the rear motorist.  The 35 year old plaintiff suffered from chronic low back pain following the collision.  Ultimately the injury was diagnosed as an “indiscreet pain syndrome” affecting the plaintiff’s left sacroiliac region.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $50,000 Mr. Justice Butler provided the following reasons:

[41] In summary, I conclude that Ms. Connolly suffered a significant low back strain as a result of the accident.  The accident has caused injury to the myofascial tissues in her left sacroiliac region.  The injury has not resolved in spite of her aggressive attempts to continue with exercise and chiropractic treatment and some physiotherapy.  She now has chronic pain which is not disabling, but does restrict the type and extent of activities and exercises she can perform.  She is still able to do most household tasks, but it is likely she will continue to experience pain with activities.  It is unlikely that the pain symptoms will resolve…

[45] Here, Ms. Connolly is unable to continue with long distance running.  She does not take medications like Ms. Dutchak, but has persisted with more restricted activities.  In the past, she thrived on the combination of exercise and camaraderie with a group of fellow competitors.  Her inability to continue with that is a significant loss to her.  She has continued to exercise and is now focusing on cycling as a replacement for her previous passion, but has had to give up her dream of working as a fitness instructor.  She put much thought and several years of work into attempting to develop a skill that would provide her with income and help fulfil her desire to do strenuous exercise with like-minded people.  She is no longer able to do that and this is a significant loss.

[46] In addition to these significant losses, she has to put up with continuing pain and it is likely this will not abate in the future.  Considering all of the circumstances, I find that $50,000 is an appropriate award for non-pecuniary loss.

To access my archived posts of other recent BC Supreme Court decisions assessing damages for SI Joint Injuries in ICBC Claims you can click here.


$42,500 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Aggravation of SI Joint Injury

February 10th, 2012

Adding to this site’s archives for non-pecuniary damages for sacroiliac joint injuries, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing such an injury with pre-existing contribution.

In last week’s case (Fuchser v. Wilson) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2008 collision.  Fault was admitted.   The Plaintiff suffered from various pre-existing injuries including sacroiliac joint pain.  The collision aggravated the Plaintiff’s pre-existing injuries and also caused some new injuries.  The injuries made meaningful recovery in the first year following the collision but continued to bother her at the time of trial.  Madam Justice Russell valued the the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $50,000 then reduced this award by 15% to reflect the Plaintiff’s pre-existing condition.  In arriving at this figure the Court provided the following reasons:

[129]   Ms. Fuchser’s medical records show continuing issues with her sacroiliac joint and upper and lower back over several years. In fact, if Dr. Hershler had indeed reviewed the plaintiff’s medical records, he would have found that she had suffered from both upper and lower back pain and on-going pain in her right sacroiliac joint and right upper back as recently as three days before the accident. She reported these issues on a visit to her osteopath on December 4, 2008.

[130]   It is simply not accurate to say that Ms. Fuchser’s symptoms essentially began following the accident. It may be accurate to say that they became worse, based on her reports, but certainly she had suffered from the same or similar symptoms on and off over several years…

[169]   It is my view that the plaintiff in this case suffered from pre-existing conditions, namely scoliosis, pelvic malalignment and sacroiliac joint pain, all associated, which were active and unpredictable. In addition, she suffered right sided pain in her upper back, which was part of her overall condition, but was exacerbated by stress.

[170]   The accident of December 7, 2008 caused an exacerbation of her conditions and she suffered from increased pain which in turn affected the ways in which the pre-existing conditions manifested themselves. She again suffered sleeplessness as she had when her sacroiliac pain had been acute in the past. Her right upper back became stiff and painful, similar to how she had reacted to stress and lower back pain in the past. The headaches were a new manifestation, but no doubt related to the cervical strain she suffered in the accident.

[171]   There can be no doubt that she lived with increased pain over a period of about a year before she began to show improvement…

[173]   I find that there was a measurable risk that the degenerative changes would have become symptomatic without the accident. Dr. Klein agreed that the earlier low back problems she had had came on without any precipitating cause and that the scoliosis and disc protrusion could have explained those problems. He also agreed that tightness in the muscles (as in her right upper back) can be caused by stress…

[193]   I have carefully considered the cases on damages set out in both the plaintiff’s and the defendants’ brief of authorities. I award $50,000 in non-pecuniary damages to be subject to deduction for the pre-existing condition.


$40,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for "Mild" Sacroiliac Joint Injury

February 2nd, 2012

Reasons for judgment were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for a long-standing sacroiliac joint injury.

In last week’s case (Madsen v. Bekker) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 collision.  He suffered various injuries the most serious of which was a strain to his sacroiliac joint.  His symptoms largely recovered although mildly continued through trial and were expected to linger into the future.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $40,000 Mr. Justice Truscott provided the following reasons for judgement:

154] I accept the opinion of Dr. McGraw that the plaintiff sustained a strain of his left sacroiliac joint and I reject the opinion of Dr. Watt that it was rather a soft tissue injury to his left iliopsoas muscle and his left piriformis muscle.

[155] Dr. Watt may not have diagnosed a sacroiliac joint strain but he was not prepared to disagree with Dr. McGraw’s diagnosis of that.

[156] Dr. McGraw proved his diagnosis through the image-guided diagnostic block of the joint on March 3, 2009 and October 22, 2009.

[157] In his report of July 24, 2008 Dr. McGraw diagnosed grade 1 soft tissue injury to the lower back area and Dr. Watt in his report of February 9, 2011 also described complaints of non-radiating low back pain at the time of his assessment of January 17, 2011. To that extent the diagnosis of both doctors is similar…

[159] I am prepared to accept some present minor low back injury related to a strain of the left sacroiliac joint causing mild pain at times of prolonged lifting, bending or crouching but I also do not consider that this pain has been disabling to any of the plaintiff’s activities at all…

[163] Although Dr. McGraw says that consideration could be given to a surgical fusion or arthrodesis of the left sacroiliac joint if the joint pain is not managed in the long-term by conservative treatments such as injections, or doing nothing and becoming fit, he does not recommend surgical intervention.

[164] With this opinion of Dr. McGraw that I accept I do not consider the chance of surgical intervention to be at any level sufficient for an award of compensation.

[165] I am satisfied from all the evidence that the plaintiff’s effort to become more fit through his own exercise routines is working sufficiently to resolve the strain in his left sacroiliac joint and any related low back soft tissue injury.

[166] I decline to apply any adverse inference against the plaintiff for failing to call Dr. Feldman, a physiatrist who attended on him. The plaintiff says he was simply told, as Dr. Parkin had told him, to rest. Even if I were to apply any adverse inference I would not know what that inference would be other than the opinion would be no different than all the evidence I have heard.

[167] I am prepared to accept that the plaintiff’s complaints have continued for over four years, but at a mild level, and I consider an appropriate award of non-pecuniary damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life should be in the amount of $40,000.

For other recent BC Caselaw dealing with non-pecuniary damages for sacroiliac joint injuries you can click here to access my archived posts.


1/3 Damage Reduction For Plaintiff's "Failure to Mitigate"

October 28th, 2011

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, reducing a Plaintiff’s damages following a motor vehicle collision for failure to follow medical advice.

In this week’s case (Hsu v. Williams) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2007 rear-end collision.  The Plaintiff suffered from chronic pre-existing pain.  The Court accepted that the collision aggravated this condition and further that the collision caused a sacroiliac joint injury.   Mr. Justice Savage assessed the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $30,000 then reduced this award by 1/3 for the Plaintiff’s ‘failure to mitigate’.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[42] In Graham v. Rogers, 2001 BCCA 432 (application for leave to appeal dismissed, [2001] S.C.C.A. No. 467), Rowles J.A.(Huddart J.A. concurring) said at para. 35:

Mitigation goes to limit recovery based on an unreasonable failure of the injured party to take reasonable steps to limit his or her loss.  A plaintiff in a personal injury action has a positive duty to mitigate but if a defendant’s position is that a plaintiff could reasonably have avoided some part of the loss, the defendant bears the onus of proof on that issue.  Red Deer College v. Michaels(1975), [1976] 2 S.C.R. 324 at 331, 57 D.L.R. (3d) 386 at 390, and Asamera Oil Corp. v. Sea Oil & General Corp. (1978), [1979] 1 S.C.R. 633, 89 D.L.R. (3d) 1, provide support for that proposition.  In this case, the appellant argues that the respondent did not meet the onus of proof by showing or establishing that the appellant could reasonably have avoided his income or employment losses.

[43] In his very thorough report, Dr. Armstrong gave treatment recommendations.  Although he applied a caveat, that “my remarks are my opinions and should not be understood as directives for the provisions of Ms. Hsu’s care” as that would be “at the discretion of her treating physicians and other care providers”, his report is the only medical opinion before the court.  Those recommendations included (1) a focused and carefully supervised program of rehabilitative exercise aimed at correcting her sacroiliac joint problem; (2) minimizing passive therapies; (3) supervised stretching and posture improvement under the guidance of a physiotherapist; (4) a progressive program of exercise under the supervision of a physiotherapist to strengthen her core muscles; (5) counselling sessions with a clinical psychologist familiar with chronic pain management; (6) a progressive walking program; and (7) time off work to pursue rehabilitation.

[44] The plaintiff has largely not followed these recommendations.  There is no evidence, for example, that she embarked on a supervised program of rehabilitative exercise, counselling sessions, or has worked on stretching and posture improvement under a professional’s guidance.  She did not embark on a progressive program to strengthen core muscles.  There is no evidence that she has sought out a clinical psychologist to assist her in chronic pain management.  Hsu did not take time off work to pursue rehabilitation.  Hsu also continued with, and seeks compensation for, continuing passive therapies.

[45] For example, Hsu claims as special damages acupuncture treatments covering a period from March 2007 to June 5, 2011 ($1,050); massage therapy treatments from 2008-2010 ($1,419); massage treatments in Taiwan ($13,150); massage treatments and a one year gym pass paid for in 2010 ($1,800); acupressure and acupuncture treatments in 2011 ($670.24); undescribed “rehabilitation treatments” ($760); and various prescription medications ($194.72).

[46] Dr. Armstrong’s report was introduced in evidence by the plaintiff.  Although Dr. Armstrong says that the opinions are not directives for future care, and that future care should be at the discretion of her treating physicians and other care providers, there are no opinions of those treating physicians or care providers in evidence.  So there is no evidence that those treatment recommendations should not have been carried out.

[47] The importance of carrying out those recommendations is significant.  Dr. Armstrong opined that the longer chronic sacroiliac joint dysfunction persists, the less favourable is the chance for significant improvement.  Although his prognosis if the recommendations were carried out was guarded, in my view the plaintiff should have undertaken the recommendations by the witness she called to give evidence.  In the circumstances, the plaintiff has failed to mitigate her damages.  I would reduce the general damages award by one-third to account for this factor.

For more recent BC case summaries addressing failure to mitigate you can click here to access my archived posts and here for more recent case summaries addressing pain and suffering awards for sacroiliac joint injuries.


$60,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment for SI Joint Ligament Injury

April 26th, 2011

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for a chronic Sacroiliac Joint Ligament Injury as a result of two motor vehicle collisions.

In today’s case (Keenan v. Fletcher) the Plaintiff was involved in 4 separate collisions.  She sued for damages and all four claims were heard together.  The Court found that the Plaintiff suffered no injuries in the first two crashes and dismissed those lawsuits.

The Court did, however, find that the Plaintiff suffered injuries in the third and fourth collision, most notably a chronic ligamentous injury to the right sacroiliac joint.  Non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) were assessed at $60,000 although this assessment was then reduced by 20% to take into account various other factors which contributed to the Plaintiff’s difficulties.  In assessing damages Mr. Justice Gaul provided the following reasons:

[98] Under the heading “Diagnosis”, Dr. Hershler opined:

The history and physical findings are consistent with an injury to the right sacroiliac joint. The injury is probably primarily ligamentous, however there is evidence of mechanical malalignment and increased tightness and tenderness in the right paraspinal, as well as increased tightness in the right leg secondary to this injury….

[119] The injuries to Ms. Keenan’s neck and shoulder have resolved themselves to a considerable degree. To a lesser extent, the injury to Ms. Keenan’s lower back has also improved. I find that the improvement in Ms. Keenan’s physical condition is directly attributable to her intense drive and will to get better. I also find that it was though this sheer determination that Ms. Keenan has been able to manage and limit the impact of these injuries on her life.

[120] Given the passage of time since the injuries developed and the fact that Ms. Keenan continues to experience low level pain and discomfort in her back on a reasonably regular basis and the occasional episode of intense pain, I am persuaded the injury to Ms. Keenan’s back is the key and principal injury that has resulted from MVA #3 and MVA #4. As I have noted, Ms. Keenan is a determined person and I have no doubt that her strength of character has been and will continue to be one of the reasons why she manages so well in spite of the discomfort she experiences in her back.

[121] In my opinion, the evidence supports the conclusion that Ms. Keenan will most likely experience the occasional severe flare-up of her back pain which will likely have a negative impact upon her ability to perform her police duties, including voluntary overtime….

[148] I am satisfied that this pain has on occasion had a reasonably pronounced impact upon Ms. Keenan’s ability to enjoy all facets of her life. In the period of time immediately after MVA #4, the pain was practically constant and debilitating. Over time the pain has become more tolerable and manageable. The medical evidence points to the fact that this back pain has decreased with the passage of time; however, there is a real possibility that it will continue to flare-up and cause Ms. Keenan significant difficulties for her at work as well as at home…

[151] I am satisfied that an award of $60,000 appropriately compensates Ms. Keenan for the non-pecuniary damages she has suffered as a result of MVA #3 and MVA #4. Applying the 20% discount for the contingencies I have previously noted, I award Ms. Keenan $48,000 for her non -pecuniary damages.


$50,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment for Sacroiliac Joint Injury

April 20th, 2011

Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a Sacroiliac Joint injury following a motor vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Day v. Nicolau) the Plaintiff was injured in two separate collisions.  Fault for the crashes was admitted.  She suffered various soft tissue injuries the most serious of which was a sacroiliac joint injury.  By the time of trial her symptoms of pain persisted and were not expected to have further meaningful improvement.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $50,000 Mr. Justice Wong provided the following reasons:

[34] From the evidence Ms. Day sustained a soft tissue injury in the two motor vehicle accidents.  She has not maintained the exercise and core strengthening regimen recommended by her treating doctors.  Without proper back care, the potential for flare ups and complications exist.

[35] It is unclear what state of recovery function Ms. Day could have obtained with proper back care and exercise.  All doctors indicate in their reports the importance of back care exercise.  Though their prognosis is guarded they seem to imply that with proper care there is still potential for return to functionality with only intermittent flare ups. ..

[46] Ms. Day is a 28 year old woman who has a chronic injury to her lower back and related sacroiliac joint injury and a less serious lasting injury to her neck and right shoulder.  She has experienced pain, discomfort and some limitations to enjoyment of her previous active life for almost five years and her future condition is guarded.

[47] I fix the non-pecuniary award at $50,000.


Sacroiliac Joint Injury nets $48,500 Pain and Suffering in BC Car Crash

July 30th, 2008

Reasons for judgement were released today awarding an ‘ideal Plaintiff’ just over $100,000 in total damages as a result of a 2006 BC Car Crash which occurred near Kelowna, BC.

Both fault and quantum (value of the injuries) were at issue at trial. The collision happened when the Plaintiff’s vehicle, which was stationary, was hit by the Defendant’s tractor trailer unit. The evidence that was accepted was that the tractor trailer, while passing the stationary vehicle, jackknifed to its right. The collision was significant causing about $12,000 in vehicle damage.

The Defendant gave a different version of what happened saying that the Plaintiff vehicle ‘suddenly and without warning turning into his vehicle’. This was rejected.

This case is worth reviewing for Mr. Justice Josephson’s findings of credibility. In rejecting the defendant’s evidence he noted that the defence theory ‘is contrary to locig and common sense‘ and that the defendant’s testimony was ‘impatient, dogmatic and almost haughty‘.

As is often the case in ICBC claims the court heard from competing medical expert who disagreed as to the extent of the injuries sustained. Here the court preferred the evidence of the Plaintiff’s expert, a highly regarded rheumatologist who is no stranger to severe soft tissue injuries.

The court accepted the Plaintiff’s doctors evidence of injury which is summarized at paragraph 23 of the judgement reading as follows:

[23] She diagnosed the problem as being with the sacroiliac joint, a joint located between the tail bone and the hip. Ligaments cross over the sacroiliac and can be stretched in a motor vehicle accident, particularly if a foot is pressed on a brake pedal at the time, which can cause the symptoms of pain experienced by the plaintiff. While not certain, Dr. Shuckett was of the opinion that the plaintiff’s hyper-mobility may have exacerbated the injury. This type of injury is difficult to treat when, as in this case, recovery has not occurred. Medicines are not effective as the sacroiliac area does not have a rich blood supply.

In explaining why he preferred Dr. Shuckett’s evidence to the defence doctor’s evidence the court noted that:

[25] I do not place great weight on the evidence of Dr. Schwiegel, a neurosurgeon retained by the defence for an independent medical examination. Dr. Schwiegel does not possess the same degree of expertise as does Dr. Shuckett in this type of injury. He did not diagnose the involvement of the sacroiliac joint in the symptoms, though now agrees that may be the case. Put simply, I prefer the expert opinion evidence of Dr. Shuckett where it conflicts with that of Dr. Schwiegel.

The court found that the effects of these injuries were significant, summarizing them as follows:

[26] In summary, as a result of these soft tissue injuries, the plaintiff has gone from a gifted and active athlete to a person unable to engage in sports and other activities that were a large and important part of her life. It has affected her personal relationships. For example, family and friends now see her retreat to the sofa in pain after a family dinner. Only her strong will and determination has led to some improvement in her symptoms with aggressive physiotherapy. Her future remains “uncertain”. After the expiration of this much time and effort with only modest improvement, it may well be that significant symptoms will continue in the foreseeable future.

$48,500 was awarded for pain and suffering.

Also of interest is the judges awards for past and future wage loss. Here the Plaintiff was a commisioned sales person whose past income loss could not be caluclaed with real precision. Nonetheless compelling evidence was awarded that a loss occurred and an award was made. Simialry, it was found that the injuries may have an impact on future earnings and an award was made for loss of earning capacity.

In making an award for loss of earning capacity the court noted that:

[40] In this case, the plaintiff’s ability to perform at the high level she would have been performing but for the accident will be compromised by her injuries to some degree, though that degree is difficult to measure. Her determination and outstanding personal qualities will diminish that loss. Regular weekly appointments and daily multiple sessions of recommended exercises diminish her ability to perform to the same high level that she would have been able to perform but for the accident.

[41] Her physical limitations, as well, render her less marketable to potential employers in future. Employment requiring even temporary physical stress will not be available to her.

[42] The period of time that the plaintiff will be so affected is also difficult to measure. The best medical evidence is that her future is “uncertain”. That there has been so little improvement over the long period of time since the accident leads to the conclusion that recovery will more likely be long term than short.

[43] The plaintiff seeks a not unreasonable $20,000 for loss of earning capacity. I award the plaintiff $18,000.


 

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