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$42,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessmet for Finger Injury to “Skilled Piano Player”

One of the hallmarks of the current justice system in BC is individuals are treated uniquely when having their injuries and losses assessed.  Something the current government is hoping to take away with their proposed ICBC no fault system.  Reasons for judgement were published today showing this assessment of individual justice in action.

In today’s case (Fung v. Dhaliwal) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2013 collision.  Most of the injuries were transient and fully healed.  The Plaintiff, however, also suffered a cut to the middle of his long finger which went on to cause long term dysfunction.  The level of impairment was modest in most areas of life however the young plaintiff was a ‘skilled piano player’ and took great joy in this activity.  The injury compromised his musical abilities.  In assessing this unique loss and assessing non-pecuniary damages at $42,000 Madam Justice Forth provided the following reasons:

[44]         The injury to his left long finger has resulted in a loss of his ability to play the piano in the same manner as he did prior to the accident. I accept that for Mr. Fung that loss has been profound. It is a significant loss. It changed his future plans, which previously included becoming a professional piano teacher and possibly a performer. He has given up his goal of being certified as an ARCT teacher.

[45]         This change of plans has not affected his overall career aspirations and he has gone on to graduate from the UBC with a Bachelors of Science in Microbiology and Immunology. He works as a researcher at the UBC and BC Children’s Hospital. At UBC, he was awarded the Science Scholar Distinction and was on the Dean’s Honor list each year. This is a further testament to his dedication as a student.

[46]         I have little doubt, with Mr. Fung’s personality of being a hard worker and a dedicated student, that he would have had further success in his piano achievements. This he has now lost. In his words, the loss of not being able to express himself musically was like “…taking a part of joy from my life, almost like taking colour away”.

[47]         In assessing this loss, I have to also consider that Mr. Fung has not been impaired in any other aspect of his life, and that he suffers no functional impairment in the use of his left long finger in everyday life.

[48]         My views is that Mr. Fung’s loss is greater than the loss experienced by the plaintiff in the Nair case. In that case, Justice Skolrood found that the plaintiff was to able to play volleyball and dance but with greater pain and discomfort: para. 55. In addition, the evidence did not support that the plaintiff had aspirations to continue with these activities after graduation from high school:  para. 75.

[49]         I have reviewed the cases provided, and in assessing the particular circumstances of Mr. Fung, I am of the view that a fair and reasonable award for non-pecuniary damages is $42,000.00.

bc injury law, Finger Injury, Fung v. Dhaliwal, Madam Justice Forth