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$70,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Back and Knee Injury

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a chronic back and knee injury sustained in a collision.
In today’s case (Ali v. Fineblit) the Plaintiff was involved in a collision that the Defendant was found fully liable for.  The injuries included a low back and knee injury which remained symptomatic at trial and had a poor prognosis.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $70,000 Madam Justice Gerow provided the following reasons:

[82]         As indicated above, Ms. Fineblit concedes that Mr. Ali suffered a soft tissue injury to his back and an injury to his left knee in the accident.

[83]         It is clear from Mr. Ali’s evidence, as well as the evidence of his family, treating health care professionals and the medical experts that he is suffering from ongoing symptoms in his left knee and low back.

[84]         Prior to the accident Mr. Ali did not have any problems with his left knee or low back. The evidence is that Mr. Ali’s knee injury has impacted all areas of his life, including his work. The evidence is that he was very physically active, and ran and hiked on a regular basis to offset the sitting demands of his job. Since the accident, he has not been able to return to many of his pre-accident activities, such as running, snowboarding and hiking. As well, Mr. Ali’s ongoing left knee symptoms prevent him from doing some of the household chores, and his wife has taken on more of the household duties and cleaning. Mr. Ali’s wife and sister testified that his mood had changed since the accident and he does not have the easy going nature he did prior to the accident.

[85]         The evidence is that the symptoms from his left knee and back injury have all impacted his work. Mr. Ali travelled by plane frequently for his work prior to the accident. Since the accident, Mr. Ali had limited his air travel because he has trouble sitting on long flights. Mr. Ali testified that he experiences increased pain in his knee after sitting on flights. As well, Mr. Ali has increased back and knee symptoms from sitting at his desk or standing for long periods of time.

[86]         As noted earlier, while there maybe some improvement to Mr. Ali’s left knee and back symptoms over time with a supervised exercise program, there is a likelihood that his left knee injury will cause limitations and pain indefinitely and he will suffer from ongoing flare ups of back pain. I find that as a result of the accident, Mr. Ali has been left with ongoing chronic pain in his left knee which is unlikely to resolve, and intermittent pain in his back. Dr. Fuller and Dr. Stewart agree it is likely Mr. Ali will have some symptom improvement with further physiotherapy and/or active rehabilitation.

[87]         I have reviewed the cases provided. Each case has distinctive facts, and it is often difficult to reconcile them as awards for pain and suffering are individual in nature. The cases provided by Mr. Ali are to some extent predicated on his submissions that the accident exacerbated his headaches, which as stated above, is not supported by the evidence. The cases provided by Ms. Fineblit are to some extent predicated on her submissions that Mr. Ali’s back improved within four weeks of the accident which were rejected.

[88]         In summary, the accident caused injuries to Mr. Ali’s left knee and back which have been slow to resolve. There is a likelihood that the symptoms and restrictions of the left knee are permanent, and he will continue to suffer from intermittent back pain as a result of the accident. Having considered the evidence, and the cases provided by counsel, it is my view that an award of non-pecuniary damages in the amount $70,000 is appropriate.

Ali v. Fineblit, bc injury law, Madam Justice Gerow