$150,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Spine Fusion Leading To Chronic Complications
Reasons for judgement were released this week demonstrating that not only is an at-fault motorist responsible for the injuries they cause but also for any complications that result in the course of the Plaintiff’s reasonable treatment of these.
In this week’s case (Cebula v. Smith) the Plaintiff was involved in a head on collision. Despite denying fault the Court found there was “overwhelming and uncontradicted” evidence that the Defendant was to blame. The crash caused multiple injuries including a fractured neck which required the removal of two discs and a fusion from C5-C7. Following this surgery the Plaintiff experienced a bone infection in her hip and further experienced long term difficulty swallowing as a complication of the surgery. In finding the Defendant at fault for all of these consequences and assessing non-pecuniary damages at $150,000 Mr. Justice Weatherill provided the following reasons:
 On the basis of the evidence before me, I find that the plaintiff has established that the injuries she sustained to her neck, shoulders and upper back, right knee and right ankle, as well as her PTSD, sleep disturbances and anxiety were caused by the Accident. I also find that the plaintiff’s swallowing difficulties, dizziness and voice problems were the result of her neck surgery that was itself necessitated by the Accident. The infection in her hip at the site of her bone graft was also the result of her neck surgery. Her headaches have been aggravated by the Accident. It is more probable than not that these injuries and other conditions would not have occurred but for the Accident….
 As a result of the Accident, the plaintiff’s life changed permanently and dramatically. The various surgeries she underwent, the chronic pain and headaches, the long period of only partial recovery, the limitations on her mobility and her inability to continue in her teaching position has had a significant effect on both her physical and psychological wellbeing. She has withdrawn from her social network and previous social activities. She is short-tempered and not as much fun to be around. Driving has become stressful and anxious for her. It is worse when she is a passenger. The dizziness and choking that began after her November 2007 neck surgery continue to this day. She is unable to take care of her home and garden except for minor housekeeping tasks.
 The plaintiff has become anxious and has lost confidence in her ability to be an effective teacher. Teaching is no longer the joy that it was for her prior to the Accident. Although psychological treatment and other encouragement enabled her to gradually return to work, she is only able to teach in the classroom one day per week. That one day takes a toll on her such that she requires the remainder of the week to recuperate and prepare for the next work day.
 The plaintiff was in obvious pain and discomfort while she was testifying. It is clear to me that the Accident has caused her significant stress and anxiety and significantly affected her ability to function and cope with daily life, a marked change from her life prior to the Accident…