$20,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for "Mild" Soft Tissue Injury

Reasons for judgement were released earlier this month by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for lingering soft tissue injury.
In the recent case (Densem v. Sidal) the Plaintiff was involved in two consecutive rear-end impacts with the Defendant.  The defendant was wholly responsible for the first impact although this caused no injury.  There was competing evidence about the particular facts which led to the subsequent collision and the Court ultimately found both parties were equally to blame for this impact.
The Plaintiff suffered from soft tissue injuries to his neck and shoulders as a result of the collision.  He also advanced a claim for a low back injury although the Court found that this was unrelated.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages for the soft tissue injuries at $20,000 Mr. Justice Betton raised some credibility concerns with respect to the Plaintiff and provided the following analysis:

[99] I conclude that the plaintiff suffered soft-tissue injuries to his neck and shoulders in the motor vehicle collision. I do not accept that there has been any low back injury from the motor vehicle collision. Indeed low back injury is not among the list of injuries set out by counsel in his argument.

[100] I conclude that the best evidence of the severity of the soft-tissue injuries that the plaintiff did receive is the plaintiff’s activity level. The plaintiff had returned to a high level of function, including competitive cycling and a rigorous training schedule which included high demand weight training. He had also returned to work, and the evidence suggests that he did so successfully. He was able to perform his employment, which involved long periods of sitting mixed with periodic demanding physical work. This was despite his ongoing back problems which are not a result of the accident.

[101] The credibility issues referenced prompt me to view the plaintiff’s evidence with some caution. It is my conclusion that the plaintiff is not a heroically stoic individual who fought through pain and physical limitations to be able to engage in the activities that he did. Rather, he was able to do so because he had in fact limited or minimal ongoing symptoms…

[109] In summary, the plaintiff did receive soft-tissue injuries to his neck and shoulder areas. He has had ongoing lower back pain that pre-dated the motor vehicle collision, and was not affected in any material way by the motor vehicle collision. He has had a number of subsequent events and injuries that required medical intervention and affected him for various periods of time. I accept the evidence and observations of Dr. Cameron in cross-exanimation that the effect of the motor vehicle collision injuries (that is the physical injuries) has been mild.

bc injury law, credibility, Densem v. Sidal, Mr. Justice Betton

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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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