$75,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Neck and Back Soft Tissue Injuries
Adding to this site’s soft tissue injury case archives, reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic low back and neck soft tissue injuries.
In today’s case (Lampkin v. Walls) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 rear-end collision caused by the Defendant. The Defendant admitted fault. The Plaintiff suffered injuries to his neck and back which remained symptomatic at trial, were expected to carry on to the future and resulted in a permanent partial disability. I assessing non-pecuniary damages at $75,000 Madam Justice Watchuk provided the following reasons:
 I substantially agree with the application by Mr. Lampkin of the factors as set out in Stapley v. Hejslet. I accept the following facts with respect to these factors:
(a) Age of the Plaintiff: Mr. Lampkin is currently 46 years old. Both he and his wife are involved in raising their two children, Lexxus and Nathaniel. Prior to the accident, Mr. Lampkin enjoyed taking Lexxus to the park and playing soccer with him. As a family, they enjoyed going to the beach for barbeques and attending festivals. A great deal of this enjoyment has not been possible since the accident. Given his age, Mr. Lampkin has less opportunity to heal or find alternative ways to enjoy recreational activities.
(b) Nature of the Injury: Mr. Lampkin has been experiencing pain primarily in his neck and back for over 6 years. He reported those and other injuries immediately following the accident, and he continues to experience them although in lesser degrees. The pain affects his work and his day-to-day activities including driving, playing sports and playing with his children. At the end of a work day, Mr. Lampkin’s injuries are aggravated leaving him with little energy or patience to pursue his usual after work activities.
(c) Severity and duration of the pain: Mr. Lampkin’s injuries tend to vary depending on his activities. When he has had time to rest, the severity of his pain is manageable. However, after a work day, Mr. Lampkin requires pain medication to manage the pain. His symptoms are focused in his neck and back. The medical evidence supports that, in particular, Mr. Lampkin’s low-back symptoms are unlikely to resolve.
(d) Disability: Mr. Lampkin is partially restricted in many of his activities and has not been able to return to cricket. He is careful not to aggravate his neck or back. He now takes much longer to do things than he used to and is frustrated by his lack of energy.
(e) Emotional suffering: There is no doubt that Mr. Lampkin is clearly frustrated by his injuries. Ms. Rouse explained that Mr. Lampkin is much more irritable than he used to be.
(f) Impairment of life: Mr. Lampkin no longer plays cricket and is less interested in hobbies such as attending festivals, going to the beach or playing soccer. Doing too much tends to aggravate his symptoms.
(g) Impairment of family, marital and social relationships: Although Mr. Lampkin and Ms. Rouse have reconciled since the accident, Mr. Rouse has noted a significant change in Mr. Lampkin. He often does not have energy or is in too much pain to play with Lexxus. He is also much more irritable than he used to be.
(h) Impairment of physical and mental abilities: The injuries to his neck and back have directly impacted his ability to play soccer, basketball and cricket. Mr. Lampkin used to enjoy staying active but is now concerned that these activities will aggravate his symptoms.
(i) Loss of lifestyle: Mr. Lampkin and Ms. Rouse were carefree people. They now have to deal with their continued loss of income, particularly with raising a young family. Mr. Lampkin is also worried about his ability to partake in his sons’ lives and wants to be able to play sports with them.
(j) The plaintiff’s stoicism: Mr. Lampkin is resilient and hardworking. He takes pride in his ability to provide for his family and his skills. Despite the continued pain, Mr. Lampkin has continued to work in physical jobs, working as many as seven days per week. He was fortunate to have two employers in landscaping who made accommodations to assist him.
 It is necessary to consider each case individually and I find that all of the cases relied on by the plaintiff have important differences with the plaintiff’s circumstances here. However, I find that those cases are informative for circumstances where the plaintiff has somewhat similar injuries and is limited to varying degrees in both their jobs and recreational pursuits. Mr. Lampkin is no longer able to perform the heavy tasks that he has relied upon to learn a living. In addition, he had excelled in cricket for his entire life and is no longer able to play this sport that was central to his identity both in St. Vincent and Canada. Considering all of the factors, I find that an appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages is $75,000.