$50,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Low Back Soft Tissue Injury

Reasons for judgement were released earlier this month by the BC Supreme Court,  New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for a chronic low back soft tissue injury.
In the recent case (Hatch v. Kumar) the Plaintiff was involved in a rear end collision in 2010.  She sustained soft tissue injuries to her low back and sacroiliac region.   These continued to pose problems by the time of trial and were expected to last into the future albeit with a chance of improvement. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $50,000 Mr. Justice Savage provided the following reasons:
[20]         Ms. Hatch continues to have back pain.  She finds it particularly bothersome after physical exercise and towards the end of the work week.  She continues to undergo physiotherapy and take pain medication. She tries to keep active, but is unable to participate in the vigorous activities she used to enjoy.  Rather, she continues with yoga and core strengthening exercises and physical activities on a more limited basis. 
[21]         All of the medical experts agree there is a chance that Ms. Hatch may recover from her symptoms, and it is unlikely that she will get worse.  The experts all agree, however, that a full recovery is not certain, and the longer she continues to have symptoms the less likely it is that they will fully resolve. 
[22]         It is now more than three years since the Accident.  Ms. Hatch has reached a plateau in her recovery.  Both Ms. Hatch and Dr. Van Niekerk testified that her condition has not improved since September 2012.  This lack of improvement is one factor that the physicians agree makes it less likely that her injuries will completely resolve over time.  The fact that her injuries persist today is another factor that makes it less likely that they will completely resolve over time.  The evidence indicates that Ms. Hatch has followed the advice of her physicians at all times.  As such, there is no mitigation issue. 
[23]         In short, Ms. Hatch faces an unknown future with regard to her low back pain and sacroiliac soft tissue injury.  The pain is an ongoing accompaniment to both work and recreational activities, and also limits her ability to do household chores.  The limitation on her recreational activities is particularly significant given her previous history of athletic pursuits. ..
[41]          As I discussed previously, the award of non-pecuniary damages will be assessed based on the unique facts and circumstances of each particular case. However, while each case is different in some respects, I find the authorities cited by Ms. Hatch closer to the facts and circumstances of this case than those comparators cited by Mr. Kumar.
[42]         Taking all of the evidence into account, I award Ms. Hatch $50,000 in non-pecuniary damages. 

bc injury law, Hatch v. Kumar, Mr. Justice Savage

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ERIK
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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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