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$65,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Intermittent Soft Tissue Injuries

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic injuries sustained in a vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Juelfs v. McCue) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2014 collision that the Defendants accepted fault for.   The crash resulted in a variety of injuries some of which continued to linger to the time of trial and had a poor prognosis for full recovery.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $60,000 Mr. Justice Riley made the below findings and provided the following reasons:

[69]         My conclusions with respect to the nature, extent, and duration of the plaintiff’s injuries are as follows:

a)    Ms. Juelfs has suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck, upper back, and lower back. She also developed a TMJ dysfunction.

b)    Ms. Juelfs has been able to manage the symptoms from the TMJ dysfunction by wearing a mouth guard at night. The TMJ dysfunction is likely to fully resolve at some point.

c)     The symptoms associated with the soft injuries to the neck, upper back, and lower back have been more persistent, less manageable, and more disruptive to her lifestyle. Almost five years after the collision, these symptoms have not resolved, and I conclude that Ms. Juelfs will continue to experience intermittent neck, upper back, and lower back pain as described herein into the indefinite future.

d)    As a result of these soft tissue injuries, Ms. Juelfs is limited in her occupation in regards to (i) the sustained sitting demands in the office component of her work, and (ii) strenuous activities required in field work, including travelling long distances over rough roads, wearing a heavy backpack for extended periods of time, carrying equipment in the field, and holding certain postures for prolonged periods of time.

e)    The soft tissue injuries have also had an effect on the plaintiff’s lifestyle. Ms. Juelfs is restricted in her ability to participate in strenuous physical activities such as weight lifting, hiking, and running. The extent of the restriction is relatively minor, but its impact is by no means trivial for Ms. Juelfs, who was an active person and continues to be active within her limitations.

f)      When Ms. Juelfs exceeds her physical limits, her pain is aggravated and can lead to “flare ups”.

g)    Ms. Juelfs suffers flare ups or “bad days” once every six to eight weeks, during which she finds the pain associated with her soft tissue injuries to be debilitating and makes it very difficult for her to do anything…

[85]         I consider that Ms. Juelfs is a relatively young woman who, prior to the collision, was healthy and lived a relatively active lifestyle. As a result of the collision, Ms. Juelfs developed a TMJ dysfunction, and suffered soft-tissue injuries to her neck, upper back and lower back. The TJM disorder has caused Ms. Juelfs to suffer sporadic acute jaw pain that has been mitigated through use of a mouth guard and is expected to resolve over time. The soft-tissue injuries have resulted in intermittent neck and back pain that has become chronic. The pain is exacerbated by prolonged sitting, sustained neck postures, and sustained vigorous physical activity such as lifting heavy weights, running, of carrying a backpack for extended periods of time. After the collision, Ms. Juelfs made an effort to return to field work, and has continued to be as active as she can in both her fitness activities and her recreational pursuits. Nonetheless I accept the evidence of Ms. Juelfs, supported by the testimony of the other lay witnesses, that the soft-tissue injury and resulting pain have limited Ms. Juelfs in her ability to do field work in her chosen occupation, and imposed moderate limitations on her lifestyle. In these circumstances, and considering the positions put forward by each of the parties, I conclude that Ms. Juelfs should receive non-pecuniary damages of $65,000.

bc injury law, ICBC tmj injury cases, Juelfs v. McCue, Mr. Justice Riley