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$130,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages For Widespread Chronic Pain

Adding to this site’ archived chronic pain damage assessments, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Kamloops Registry, assessing damages for a low back injury which required surgery along with ‘widespread’ chronic pain symptoms.
In today’s case (McLeod v. Goodman) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2008 collision.  Liability was admitted by the Defendant.  The collision caused a wide variety of injuries which impacted the Plaintiff to the time of trial and were expected to continue indefinitely.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $130,000 Madam Justice Donegan provided the following reasons:
[125]     In this case, temporal reasoning is very compelling. I have found Mrs. McLeod’s lower back injury required surgery as a direct result of injuries she suffered in the accident. She had normal bladder sensation and function before the surgery and a loss of it nearly immediately thereafter. With no prior problems in this area, as a matter of common sense, I conclude that the low back surgery is more likely than not to have caused the bladder problems. As the surgery would not have been required if not for the defendants’ tortious act, the plaintiff has established a substantial connection between her bladder condition and the negligence beyond the de minimus range.
[126]     In summary, I am satisfied Mrs. McLeod has established that the following injuries were caused by the defendants’ negligence:
1)    Musculoligamentous strain to the cervical spine;
2)    Chronic headaches;
3)    Shoulder pain;
4)    Musculoligamentous strain to the lumbar spine and lumbar radiculopathy causing pain to her lower back, hips, groin and right leg, resulting in surgical intervention;
5)    Partial loss of bladder sensation and functionality;
6)    Widespread chronic pain syndrome; and
7)    Emotional pain in the form of low mood and feelings of low self-worth.
[127]     These injuries are permanent in nature and expected to worsen over time, although there is some hope treatment may reduce pain or increase her ability to cope with it…
[138]     Prior to the accident, Mrs. McLeod was an energetic, hardworking, 43-year-old, single mother of two. She could handle any challenge life presented her. She had no physical or emotional limitations preventing her from working in her chosen field, from maintaining a nice home and yard, from supporting and spending time with family and friends and engaging in a variety of recreational pursuits.
[139]     The accident has taken much from Mrs. McLeod. As a result of her injuries and their aftermath, she can, I think, be best described as a shell of her former self. She suffers severe, daily pain throughout her body for which she is only granted temporary reprieve when she endures painful injections. She requires constant pain medication. Mrs. McLeod must adjust her life to deal with this pain, frequent headaches, fatigue, occasional incontinence and weakness in her leg. Her emotional suffering is due to her inability to no longer contribute to her family, to the workforce and to society. Her relationships with her family are negatively affected. Her social and recreational life is non-existent. In short, her enjoyment of all aspects of her life has been significantly reduced.
[140]     Considering all of the case authorities provided, I find the Fox decision the most useful, although I do find Mrs. McLeod’s losses to be more significant than the plaintiff’s in that case. Ms. Fox did not require surgery and was able to work at least part-time.
[141]     I find the appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages in this case is $130,000.00.