$60,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment for Shoulder Impingement Syndrome


Adding to this site’s archived posts of BC non-pecuniary damage awards for shoulder injuries, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for soft tissue injuries and an impingement syndrome.
In last week’s case (Sandhar v. Rolston) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2004 rear-end collision.  Fault was admitted by the offending driver.  The trial focused on the value of the Plaintiff’s claim.  The Plaintiff suffered a soft tissue injury to her neck and an impingement syndrome to her right shoulder.  The symptoms largely recovered by 2007 following a cortisone injection although she had some lingering symptoms.
Complicating matters, the Plaintiff injured her right shoulder shovelling snow in 2008.   She injured her rotator cuff.  Mr. Justice Affleck found this was a ‘divisible injury‘ and assessed damages accordingly.  In awarding $60,000 for non-pecuniary damages the Court provided the following reasons:

[53] In Hussack v. Chilliwack School District No. 33, 2011 BCCA 258, the court observed that decisions of the court on the question of an intervening cause, “say that if an injured party acts unreasonably and causes him or herself further injury, the tortfeasor is not responsible for any injuries suffered as a result of the second injury.” It was not reasonable for the plaintiff to have shovelled snow in the fashion that she did in 2008. Even if the injuries from that activity were indivisible, I would not award damages for them.

[54] That does not mean compensation for the injuries from the car accident is cut off from the date the plaintiff shovelled snow. If the car accident injuries continued to have their effects after December 2008, the defendant remains liable to compensate the plaintiff for those effects. See Dudek v. Li, 2000 BCCA 321.

[55] There has been no mechanical derangement of the plaintiff’s neck and shoulder caused by the car accident. I accept Dr. Leith’s view that the plaintiff’s injuries were soft tissue injuries of the “whiplash” variety. The evidence is that the whiplash was properly characterized as grade one. That is the least damaging form of a whiplash injury. That does not mean the injuries were insignificant. On the contrary, they caused pain and measure of disability from May 2004 until the cortisone injection in April 2007. I accept that slight pain returned later that year and through 2008. Despite the plaintiff’s ability to carry on with work, the plaintiff found it to be uncomfortable to do so. I accept that even if she had not suffered a new injury to her shoulder in December 2008, the pre-existing problems would have lingered even beyond 2008 for perhaps about two years.

[56] I have been provided by the parties with numerous authorities on the assessment of non-pecuniary damages in similar cases. As is usual, none of the plaintiffs in those cases had injuries the same as the plaintiff before me. I take into account the long course of difficulties experienced by the plaintiff which would not have been suffered but for the car accident and that the car accident injuries would have lingered for about six years while gradually diminishing. The three years before the plaintiff had the cortisone injection were difficult, but she did her best to carry on with her employment and with her housekeeping with considerable discomfort. She lost much of her enjoyment of life in those years. She returned to her pre-accident condition after April 2007 and had marked relief of pain for 18 months, but not complete resolution. The plaintiff’s high expectations of herself in her employment, housekeeping and recreational activities, increased the effect of the car accident injuries, but the defendant must accept the plaintiff as she is.

[57] I assess non-pecuniary damages at $60,000…

bc injury law, impingement syndrome, Indivisible Injuries, Mr. Justice Affleck, Sandhar v. Rolston, shoulder impingement

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

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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