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$20,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For 3 Year Soft Tissue Injuries With Good Prognosis

Reasons for judgement were released recently by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for fairly modest injuries caused by a motor vehicle incident.
In the recent case (Ward v. Zhu) the Plaintiff was a passenger on a bus that stopped suddenly throwing her to the ground.  This occurred as the driver was avoiding a collision with another motorist.  Fault was admitted by the other motorist.  The Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries and although these remained symptomatic at the time of trial (over three years following the incident) they did not significantly impair the Plaintiff.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $20,000 Mr. Justice Goepel provided the following reasons:

[30] In this case, there is limited evidence that supports Ms. Ward’s claim for loss of enjoyment of life and loss of amenities. Ms. Ward missed no time from work as a result of her injuries. Within two months of her injuries, she was trying out for a soccer team. The only amenities referenced in her evidence concerned reductions in running and walking and difficulty in 2011 sitting through a concert. On the evidence that has been led at this trial, I cannot find that Ms. Ward’s enjoyment of life has been significantly compromised by this accident.

[31] There is also limited evidence in relation to pain and suffering. Ms. Ward abandoned physical therapy and chiropractic treatments shortly after the accident. She went long periods of time without seeking any medical advice concerning her injuries. She did not say anything to her family doctor concerning these injuries until January 2011. The defendant submits that the lack of complaints to medical practitioners supports his submission that Ms. Ward substantially recovered within weeks of the accident.

[32] I do not accept that conclusion. In 2009, Ms. Ward had other difficulties in her life which explain why she did not actively seek treatment for these injuries. I accept her evidence that she did not aggressively seek medical treatment because she mistakenly believed the injuries would resolve without medical assistance.

[33] I find that Ms. Ward did suffer an injury in the fall on the bus. I accept that those injuries have impacted her for more than three years. Her decision not to actively treat her injuries immediately following the accident has undoubtedly prolonged her recovery. When Ms. Ward finally started an active regime of chiropractic and massage treatments her condition improved. Dr. Dyment testified that Ms. Ward’s injuries are now slowly resolving. The evidence does not allow me to conclude that her injuries are permanent.

[34] While Ms. Ward’s recovery has been prolonged, the impact on her life is considerably less than the plaintiffs in Deiter and Parker, although somewhat greater than the plaintiffs in the cases cited on behalf of the defendant. While the cases provide a general range of appropriate damages, all cases ultimately must be decided on their own facts.

[35] I award $20,000 in non-pecuniary damages. This award includes an allowance for the difficulty that Ms. Ward has had or will continue to have in performing her usual household tasks with less efficiency and comfort than she did before the accident: Helgason v. Bosa, 2010 BCSC 1756 at para. 160.

bc injury law, Mr. Justice Gopel, Ward v. Zhu