$135,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages Awarded for Torn Pectoralis Major Muscle

(UPDATE: May 9, 2012 … The Trial Judge’s findings regarding liability were appealed.  The Appeal was dismissed today.)

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry, awarding just over $450,000 in damages for injuries and losses arising out of a 2006 BC Motor Vehicle Collision.
In today’s case (Power v. White) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2 vehicle collision.  As the Plaintiff was driving down the Island Highway a deer ran into his lane of travel threatening collision.  The Plaintiff reacted suddenly by changing into the right lane and braking as hard as he could.  Unfortunately this was not sufficient and the Plaintiff’s vehicle struck the deer.  Shortly afterwards the Defendant, who was travelling in the right lane, collided with the rear of the Plaintiff’s vehicle.  Fault was at issue however the Mr. Justice Verhoeven found that the Plaintiff reacted reasonably to the threatened collision and that the Defendant was 100% at fault for failing to drive with all due care and attention.
The Plaintiff suffered various injuries the most serious of which was a tear to his pectoralis major muscle.  This injury did not fully heal and was expected to effect the Plaintiff well into the future.  The Plaintiff’s family doctor provided the following evidence with respect to the severity of this injury:

In review, Mr. Power sustained injuries to his right pectoralis major (partial tear) to the right T-6 area as well as some transient injuries to the soft tissues in his right shoulder and base of neck and right buttock area. These complaints started after his accident and have been persistent and continuous since that time. Institution of physiotherapy, chiropractic and exercised based therapy have been useful in increasing some of his functional capacity since the accident, but have plateaued in that the pain from either his right pectoralis area or the T-6 area have limited any further advancement of intensity or duration of his exercise. These injuries have significantly limited his recreational activities, particularly swimming, biking and running as well as his ability to care for his house and yard, particularly the use of his power saw, shovels and mowing his lawn. At work he generally does not have a lot of limitation as he is able to get up from his seat when he needs to but does have limited sitting capacity as has previously been outlined. He does and would have some problems turning some of the heavy valves and climbing the ladders if there is a breakdown at the mill, however he does have a partner and this has generally worked out that the partner has done this.

Mr. Power has sustained significant injuries from the accident. His functional limitations have been outlined in detail. They are significant for his recreational and household and yard activities. At this time I do not see a significant future recovery for these and at the moment I am unable to find a surgeon who would consider repairing this injury, although I will persist in searching the literature for a possible solution for this problem. Mr. Power has shown he is determined to remain active, having returned to work promptly after his accident, followed all of my instructions as well as his therapist’s instructions to the letter and done a persistent and significant job in increasing his activities to what is now his limit due to pain in the aforementioned areas and I do not see his disabilities resolving in the near future.

Mr. Justice Verhoeven awarded the Plaintiff $135,000 for his non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life).  In reaching this figure the Court provided the following reasons:

[82]         In this case, Mr. Power has suffered a very significant and permanent loss to the lifestyle he previously enjoyed. Virtually all of his previous physical activities have been severely curtailed. Prior to the accident Mr. Powers physical vigour was central to his life and lifestyle. His mood and emotional well being have been negatively affected. His relationship with his wife has been harmed. His ability to improve and maintain his property, quite obviously a source of great pleasure and pride to him formerly, is all but completely gone. He has not and will not in future be as physically fit as he previously was. It is reasonable to infer that this may affect his health long term. I think it likely that Mr. and Mrs. Power will sell their five acre property and move into a residence that does not require so much effort to maintain…

[84]         In all these circumstances, I assess the plaintiff’s non-pecuniary loss at $135,000.

Agony of Collision, deer accident, inevitable accident, Mr. Justice Verhoeven, non-pecuniary damages, Power v. White, Torn Pectoralis Major Muscle

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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