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$30,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for “Persistent, Enduring But Minor” Neck Injury

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry, assessing damages for a relatively modest neck injury arising from a vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Chapman v. Zilm) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2016 intersection collision.  It was described as ‘low impact’.   The Defendant was found fully at fault for the crash. The impact caused a neck injury to the plaintiff which the court found was ‘persistent, enduring but thankfully quite minor‘ in its lingering consequences.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $30,000 Mr. Justice Baird provided the the following reasons:

[26]         In summary, I have concluded that the defendant’s negligence has caused the plaintiff persistent, enduring, but thankfully quite minor left posterior neck pain which manifests itself only in the final extremities of lateral flexion. I would characterise this injury as only marginally incapacitating. On all of the evidence, I find that the extent to which it has interfered with the plaintiff’s personal and working life is not terribly significant, especially when considered alongside his various other physical deficits and limitations unrelated to the accident, which viewed cumulatively are far more debilitating than his neck pain.

[33]         In the present case, the plaintiff has not fully recovered in the three years since the accident. While there is some possibility for improvement through directed exercise and kinesiology, it is likelier than not that his present symptoms will persist indefinitely. He has been able to continue with his pre-accident recreational activities, though with some decrease in intensity. I am satisfied that the pain he suffers from his injury will continue to cause him some loss of enjoyment of life.

[34]         In my assessment, the case authorities relied on by the plaintiff refer to more seriously debilitating injuries than he has suffered, but the awards at the lower end of the defendant’s suggested range are inadequate. I have concluded that the authorities in roughly the $25,000 to $30,000 range are more consistent with the facts at bar, with the Pond decision being a plausible comparator. I hereby award the plaintiff $30,000 under this heading.

bc injury law, Chapman v. Zilm, Mr. Justice Baird