$75,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Low Back Disc Protrusions With Chronic Symptoms

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a chronic low back injury caused as a result of a motor vehicle collision.
In this week’s case (Roy v. Storvick) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 T-bone collision.  The Defendant admitted fault “just before the trial commenced“.  The Plaintiff, a 27 year old carpenter at the time of the crash, suffered various injuries the most serious of which involved disc injuries in his low back.  He was expected to have long term issues associated with these affecting his vocational abilities.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $75,000 Madam Justice Gropper made the following findings and provided the following reasons:
[50]         With respect to Mr. Roy’s lumbar spine, Dr. Murray comments:
As a direct result of [this motor vehicle accident], this 30-year-old carpenter sustained myofascial injuries to his cervical spine and a severe injury to his lumbar region where both clinically and radiologically he has evidence of lower lumbar disc protrusions principally at the L3/L4 level where there was an associated annular tear and also at the L4/L5 level where there was a moderate midline focal disc protrusion.
[51]         Dr. Murray says that lumbar disc protrusions usually run a protracted course of recovery: a three year duration is not unusual. He expects that Mr. Roy will eventually become pain free.
[52]         In regard to Mr. Roy’s tear of the annulus fibrosus at the L3/L4 level, it can never heal as it does not have a blood supply. Dr. Murray considers that Mr. Roy will always be at risk for further episodes of lumbar disc protrusion pain. Dr. Murray continues:
… he will not be able to continue with his career as a carpenter and will need to be retrained for a less physically demanding alternate occupation. It may be difficult to find such an occupation for this man as he is very much “the sporting type”, who prior to the [motor vehicle accident] three years ago attended the gym six times a week and also played soccer twice a week….
[105]     At the time of the injury, Mr. Roy enjoyed an active lifestyle. He was engaged in work as a carpenter and participated regularly and enthusiastically in many sporting activities. While he is able to continue his employment, the remaining aspects of his physical activities have come to an end. In reconciling the prognosis of Drs. Craig and Murray, I consider that Dr. Craig has an unduly optimistic view of Mr. Roy’s prospective recovery. I note that Dr. Craig had a more limited opportunity to observe Mr. Roy. He was also apparently unclear on the degree to which Mr. Roy was engaging in exercise.
[106]     I further note that Dr. Craig dismissed Dr. Murray’s treatment of Mr. Roy and recommended that Mr. Roy be assessed by a kinesiologist. Mr. Roy was assessed by Mr. Hunt, a kinesiologist, who put him through testing and concluded that Mr. Roy’s functioning is compromised and that he will likely have increased rather than reduced pain.
[107]     I find that Dr. Murray’s prognosis is more accurate and that his opinion Mr. Roy suffered a severe injury to his lumbar spine and a moderate to severe injury to his cervical spine is accurate. While Dr. Murray suggests that there may be some improvement, Mr. Roy is at risk of re-injury. He will also suffer from continuing pain and discomfort….
[109]     Having reviewed the cases provided by both parties, I assess Mr. Roy’s non-pecuniary damages at $75,000.

annular tear, bc injury law, disc protrusion, Madam Justice Gropper, Roy v. Storvick

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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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