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$40,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Chronic Whiplash and Possible Facet Joint Injury

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a chronic whiplash injury.
In last week’s case (Fiorda v. Say) the Plaintiff was involved in two collisions, the first in 2008 and the second in 2009.  The Plaintiff was not at fault for either crash.  Both collisions contributed to a chronic whiplash injury with possible facet joint involvement.  The symptoms of pain were still present by the time of trial and these were expected to carry into the future.  In assessing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $40,000 Madam Justice Holmes provided the following reasons:

[25] Dr. Gabriel Hirsch, specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, conducted an independent medical assessment on April 4, 2011.

[26] Dr. Hirsch concluded that in the first accident, Ms. Fiorda sustained relatively minor injuries to her neck, upper back, and shoulder girdle region, from which she had made a good recovery by the time of the second accident.  He concluded that absent the second accident, Ms. Fiorda probably would have made a full recovery from the first.

[27] Dr. Hirsch concluded that the second accident caused injuries to Ms. Fiorda’s neck, thoracic spine, and lumbar spine, which probably involved soft tissue structures, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  Given the accident mechanism as Ms. Fiorda had described it, it was also possible that Ms. Fiorda sustained an injury to a cervical facet joint.

[28] Dr. Hirsch recommended that Ms. Fiorda carry out a regular exercise program, ideally in a well-equipped community centre or gymnasium.  Because Ms. Fiorda had recently completed a functional restoration program under the guidance of a physiotherapist and kinesiologist, he felt she should be able to continue with a maintenance program on her own.  He recommended particular components of a regular exercise program for Ms. Fiorda to follow.

[29] Dr. Hirsch also suggested that Ms. Fiorda consider trigger point injections into the neck and shoulder girdle region, her most symptomatic areas.  He noted that those injections are funded by the Medical Services Plan.

[30] Dr. Hirsch noted that “there is some uncertainty” about whether Ms. Fiorda can continue in her work as a costume designer on a sustainable basis because of the long hours and many consecutive days, which do not allow her the opportunity to recuperate from a flare-up. ..

[45] In my view, the particular circumstances of Ms. Fiorda’s case support an award of $40,000.

bc injury law, Facet Joint Injury, Fiorda v. Say, Madam Justice Holmes