$40,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for "Mild" Sacroiliac Joint Injury
Reasons for judgment were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for a long-standing sacroiliac joint injury.
In last week’s case (Madsen v. Bekker) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 collision. He suffered various injuries the most serious of which was a strain to his sacroiliac joint. His symptoms largely recovered although mildly continued through trial and were expected to linger into the future. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $40,000 Mr. Justice Truscott provided the following reasons for judgement:
154] I accept the opinion of Dr. McGraw that the plaintiff sustained a strain of his left sacroiliac joint and I reject the opinion of Dr. Watt that it was rather a soft tissue injury to his left iliopsoas muscle and his left piriformis muscle.
 Dr. Watt may not have diagnosed a sacroiliac joint strain but he was not prepared to disagree with Dr. McGraw’s diagnosis of that.
 Dr. McGraw proved his diagnosis through the image-guided diagnostic block of the joint on March 3, 2009 and October 22, 2009.
 In his report of July 24, 2008 Dr. McGraw diagnosed grade 1 soft tissue injury to the lower back area and Dr. Watt in his report of February 9, 2011 also described complaints of non-radiating low back pain at the time of his assessment of January 17, 2011. To that extent the diagnosis of both doctors is similar…
 I am prepared to accept some present minor low back injury related to a strain of the left sacroiliac joint causing mild pain at times of prolonged lifting, bending or crouching but I also do not consider that this pain has been disabling to any of the plaintiff’s activities at all…
 Although Dr. McGraw says that consideration could be given to a surgical fusion or arthrodesis of the left sacroiliac joint if the joint pain is not managed in the long-term by conservative treatments such as injections, or doing nothing and becoming fit, he does not recommend surgical intervention.
 With this opinion of Dr. McGraw that I accept I do not consider the chance of surgical intervention to be at any level sufficient for an award of compensation.
 I am satisfied from all the evidence that the plaintiff’s effort to become more fit through his own exercise routines is working sufficiently to resolve the strain in his left sacroiliac joint and any related low back soft tissue injury.
 I decline to apply any adverse inference against the plaintiff for failing to call Dr. Feldman, a physiatrist who attended on him. The plaintiff says he was simply told, as Dr. Parkin had told him, to rest. Even if I were to apply any adverse inference I would not know what that inference would be other than the opinion would be no different than all the evidence I have heard.
 I am prepared to accept that the plaintiff’s complaints have continued for over four years, but at a mild level, and I consider an appropriate award of non-pecuniary damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life should be in the amount of $40,000.
For other recent BC Caselaw dealing with non-pecuniary damages for sacroiliac joint injuries you can click here to access my archived posts.