$75,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Grade 2 Soft Tissue Injuries With Unknown Prognosis

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic soft tissue injuries sustained in a collision.
In today’s case (Cyr v. Kopp) the Plaintiff was involved in a rear end collision in 2011.  Fault was admitted on behalf of the rear driver.  The Plaintiff sustained Grade 2 soft tissue injuries to his neck and these also effected a pre-existing shoulder injury caused in an altercation with police.  The prognosis was not known as the Court accepted that the Plaintiff was not compliant with all suggested treatments and accordingly his injury may still be subject to improvement.
In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $75,000 then reducing this figure to $60,000 on account of the Plaintiff’s failure to mitigate Mr. Justice Weatherill provided the following reasons:
 

[119]     The plaintiff is 39 years old. 

[120]     The medical experts are in agreement, and I find, that the plaintiff likely suffered a grade 2 whiplash injury as a result of the MVA.  That injury affected the plaintiff’s right cervicothoracic region, extending to the right shoulder.  He also experienced the onset of migraine headaches.

[121]     I accept the plaintiff’s evidence that these MVA-related injuries continue to persist.  I also accept Dr. Bowlsby’s opinion that, while they should have healed long ago, the pain fibers in some people do not turn off over time and sometimes get worse.  Dr. Bowlsby opined that, in his experience, approximately 10% of people who suffer whiplash injuries prove to be difficult to treat and those injuries can be a source of significant and sometimes permanent disability.

[122]     I am unable to conclude that the plaintiff is one of those 10% because he refused to initiate the physiotherapy treatments that were repeatedly recommended by his medical practitioners.  This is a case of a patient thinking that he knows better than his health practitioners: Middleton v. Morcke, 2007 BCSC 804 at para. 49…

[131]     Here, the plaintiff’s pre-existing right shoulder injury was continuing to cause him pain and discomfort at the time of the MVA.  The MVA caused him to suffer an upper body soft tissue injury which continues to persist.  His prognosis for recovery continues to be unknown.

[132]     After having considered all of the foregoing evidence, the submissions of counsel and the case authorities they have cited, I consider that, subject to an adjustment for his failure to mitigate, which I will deal with in the paragraphs that follow, an award of $75,000 fairly compensates the plaintiff for his pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life and amenities…

[139]     The defendants are entitled to an adjustment in the plaintiff’s damages to account for my finding of fact that he would have recovered from his MVA-related injuries sooner if he had implemented and maintained the recommended physiotherapy programs.  I am satisfied that a deduction of 20% is appropriate. 

[140]     Accordingly, the plaintiff is entitled to an award for non-pecuniary damages equal to $75,000 x 80% = $60,000.

bc injury law, Mr. Justice G.C. Weatherill

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ERIK
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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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