$45,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Soft Tissue Injury of Foot

Reasons for judgement were released today (Lutz v. Lim) awarding a Plaintiff just over $64,000 in total damages as a result of 2 BC motor vehicle collisions.
Fault was admitted for both crashes leaving the court to deal with the issue of damages.  The Plaintiff suffered a complicated soft tissue injury to his right foot as a result of the first crash.  The Plaintiff’s doctors gave the following opinion with respect to the Plaintiff’s foot injury:
In summary, Mr. Lutz continues to experience significant pain in his right foot, in spite of orthotics and custom-made workboots. He is able to function at work but finds that, after he has been on his feet for more than two hours at a time, the pain in his foot increases. I believe he has a permanent partial disability as a result of the initial motor vehicle accident of April 26th, 2005, when a car ran over his right foot….

Because of the change of foot position, the increased metatarsalgia, and the swelling that occurred around the time of the accident, I think that the accident has given him significant change in his foot shape and deterioration in his foot function as it existed prior to this point.

I think, with regard to the future, he will require custom orthotics and shoes to maintain his employment…

I also think that this would help him improve his recreational activities.

I think that there will be ongoing disability from this injury. He is unlikely to be able to take employment that requires a greater degree of loading of the forefoot than he presently has. His job is well-suited to his various musculoskeletal injuries, but if he has to take part in a job that requires a greater degree of physical activity, I suspect that his foot will become the most rate-limiting area. Therefore, a job more strenuous than he presently has would be inappropriate unless further reconstructive surgery was done to his foot.

In awarding the Plaintiff $45,000 for his non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) for his foot injury Mr. Justice Verhoeven summarized the severity of the injury and the effects on the Plaintiff’s life as follows:

[101] Doing the best I can on the evidence, I conclude that the plaintiff has suffered a substantial amount of damage to his foot in the MVA. I conclude, as well, that the MVA has caused a permanent disability in his foot. I conclude that the risk of surgery being required is caused by the MVA injuries. On the evidence, I am unable to find that there was a measurable risk of surgery being required prior to the MVA injuries….

[110] In my view, and adopting the language used by Major J. in Athey v. Leonati, the plaintiff’s foot injury is more in the nature of a “thin skull” case than it is of a “crumbling skull”. The plaintiff’s prior foot injury left him vulnerable to future injury. There is little more than speculation to suggest that his current complaints and his ongoing need for treatment would have or might have occurred in any event. There is therefore insufficient evidence to allow me to reduce the award based upon such a contingency…

[124] In summary, the plaintiff now has had foot pain steadily for the past four-and-a-half years. He has a permanent partial disability with ongoing discomfort in relation to the foot. There is some restriction on his work activities, although he has not made a claim for loss of earnings or earning capacity. He was 38 years of age at the time of the first MVA. He is now 42. There is a significant risk of surgery being required as a result of the accident injury. Although he has not lost any time from work and for the most part he has carried on with his pre-MVA activities, I take into account his stoical nature. He has had to wear orthotics in his footwear and this will continue indefinitely. He suffered a minor injury to the right hand as well.

[125] I accept the submission of plaintiff’s counsel that an appropriate compensation for non-pecuniary loss arising out of MVA No. 1 is $45,000.

Foot Injury, icbc injury claims, Lutz v. Lim, Mr. Justice Verhoeven, pain and suffering, Soft Tissue Foot Injury

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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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