$65,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For TFC Tear and Mechanical Back Pain

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a wrist and back injury sustained in a collision.
In last week’s case (Rutter v. Allen) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 collision.  The Defendants were found at fault for the rear-end crash which caused about $18,000 in damage to the Plaintiff’s vehicle.
The Plaintiff sustained a left wrist Triangular Fibrocartilage Tear (a tear to the cartilage at the base of the wrist joint) and soft tissue injuries to the low back.  The TFC tear required surgical correction.

The low back pain became chronic and continued to cause discomfort at the time of trial.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $65,000 Mr. Justice Joyce provided the following reasons:
[26] Mr. Rutter alleges that he sustained an injury to his wrist as a result of the accident, specifically an “ulnar carpal impaction with a tear of the triangular fibrocartilage”. In January 2010, Dr. Perey, an orthopaedic surgeon, operated on Mr. Rutter’s wrist to shorten the ulnar bone, which largely resolved the problem with the wrist, although Mr. Rutter testified that he still had occasional sharp pains in his wrist…
[40] In my view, there is a body of evidence, which I accept that supports the opinions of the medical experts. The evidence as a whole supports a finding, on balance, that the accident was the underlying cause of the problem and that but for this accident, Mr. Rutter would not have developed the wrist problem that was eventually corrected by surgery…

[52] Mr. Rutter has an underlying spondylolisthesis, which is a condition in which the vertebrae are out of proper position, but this was largely asymptomatic prior to the motor vehicle accident.

[53] I find that Mr. Rutter’s suffers chronic back pain that was caused by the accident of December 15, 2006. I find further that it is unlikely that he will return to his pre-accident level of activity, although it is likely that he can achieve some improvement with regular exercise, including core muscle strength training…

[65] Mr. Rutter led a very active life before the accident and was involved in a number of sports, particularly golf and running. His injuries, particularly the back injury, have led to a significant change in lifestyle for Mr. Rutter. Since the accident, Mr. Rutter has had to reduce his sporting activities substantially. He is also curtailed somewhat in his day-to-day activities, including assisting with housework and household maintenance. He has difficulty sleeping and, at times, is more irritable than he was before the accident. Fortunately, Mr. Rutter has been able to maintain his full-time employment despite his symptoms. I am satisfied that Mr. Rutter finds his life today more frustrating and less enjoyable than previously. Mr. Rutter suffers chronic back pain that is likely to continue well into the future, although Dr. le Nobel is of the opinion that if Mr. Rutter engages in an exercise regime that is developed and maintained with the assistance of a physiotherapist and kinesiologist some improvement in his symptoms is probable…

[77] In my view, the chronic low back pain which Mr. Rutter experiences has a more significant impact on his life and the prognosis for significant improvement is not as good as was the case inMawji and Perez. In my view, the authorities cited by Mr. Rutter are more representative of an appropriate range of non-pecuniary damages considering the nature and effect of his injuries. I assess non-pecuniary damages at $65,000.00.

bc injury law, mechanical back pain, Mr. Justice Joyce, Rutter v. Allen, spondylolisthesis, TFC tear, Triangular Fibrocartilage Tear

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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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