$60,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment for SI Joint Ligament Injury


Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for a chronic Sacroiliac Joint Ligament Injury as a result of two motor vehicle collisions.
In today’s case (Keenan v. Fletcher) the Plaintiff was involved in 4 separate collisions.  She sued for damages and all four claims were heard together.  The Court found that the Plaintiff suffered no injuries in the first two crashes and dismissed those lawsuits.
The Court did, however, find that the Plaintiff suffered injuries in the third and fourth collision, most notably a chronic ligamentous injury to the right sacroiliac joint.  Non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) were assessed at $60,000 although this assessment was then reduced by 20% to take into account various other factors which contributed to the Plaintiff’s difficulties.  In assessing damages Mr. Justice Gaul provided the following reasons:

[98] Under the heading “Diagnosis”, Dr. Hershler opined:

The history and physical findings are consistent with an injury to the right sacroiliac joint. The injury is probably primarily ligamentous, however there is evidence of mechanical malalignment and increased tightness and tenderness in the right paraspinal, as well as increased tightness in the right leg secondary to this injury….

[119] The injuries to Ms. Keenan’s neck and shoulder have resolved themselves to a considerable degree. To a lesser extent, the injury to Ms. Keenan’s lower back has also improved. I find that the improvement in Ms. Keenan’s physical condition is directly attributable to her intense drive and will to get better. I also find that it was though this sheer determination that Ms. Keenan has been able to manage and limit the impact of these injuries on her life.

[120] Given the passage of time since the injuries developed and the fact that Ms. Keenan continues to experience low level pain and discomfort in her back on a reasonably regular basis and the occasional episode of intense pain, I am persuaded the injury to Ms. Keenan’s back is the key and principal injury that has resulted from MVA #3 and MVA #4. As I have noted, Ms. Keenan is a determined person and I have no doubt that her strength of character has been and will continue to be one of the reasons why she manages so well in spite of the discomfort she experiences in her back.

[121] In my opinion, the evidence supports the conclusion that Ms. Keenan will most likely experience the occasional severe flare-up of her back pain which will likely have a negative impact upon her ability to perform her police duties, including voluntary overtime….

[148] I am satisfied that this pain has on occasion had a reasonably pronounced impact upon Ms. Keenan’s ability to enjoy all facets of her life. In the period of time immediately after MVA #4, the pain was practically constant and debilitating. Over time the pain has become more tolerable and manageable. The medical evidence points to the fact that this back pain has decreased with the passage of time; however, there is a real possibility that it will continue to flare-up and cause Ms. Keenan significant difficulties for her at work as well as at home…

[151] I am satisfied that an award of $60,000 appropriately compensates Ms. Keenan for the non-pecuniary damages she has suffered as a result of MVA #3 and MVA #4. Applying the 20% discount for the contingencies I have previously noted, I award Ms. Keenan $48,000 for her non -pecuniary damages.

bc injury law, Keenan v. Fletcher, Ligament Injury, Mr. Justice Gaul, sacroiliac joint injury, SI Joint Injury

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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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