$75,000 Non Pecuniary Damages Awarded for Chronic Soft Tissue Neck Injury
Reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, awarding a Plaintiff just over $156,000 in total damages as a result of damages and loss from a BC Car Crash.
In yesterday’s case (Szymanski v. Morin) the Plaintiff was involved in a rear end collision in 2004. Liability (Fault) was admitted by the Defendants leaving the court to deal with the value of the Claim.
The Plaintiff suffered mild/moderate soft tissue injuries but due to the nature of his physical work (a hard-wood floor installer) his injury continued to be aggravated and symptomatic through trial some 5 years later.
In valuing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) Madam Justice Ker highlighted the following facts with respect to the accident related injuries:
 Upon a consideration of all of the evidence, I find that Mr. Szymanski’s complaint of continuing neck and trapezius pain was caused by the accident. The fact that he suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck is not disputed. The significance in this case is that the complaint continues. I find that Mr. Szymanski continues to suffer neck and trapezius pain and that is because the accident and injuries occurred to a person with Mr. Szymanski’s particular occupation such that it has made it difficult for the injuries to fully resolve in the ordinary course. As noted in the evidence of Dr. Tomaszewski, Dr. Hershler and Ms. Quastel, which I accept, Mr. Szymanski’s occupation as a hardwood floor installed has exacerbated the situation and made him more susceptible to suffering injury for a greater period of time than a normal person might have. Mr. Szymanski has established that he has continuing problems with chronic neck pain and his continuing problems were caused by the defendants’ negligence. He is entitled to be compensated for his injuries…
 I accept Mr. Szymanski’s evidence that he sustained a soft tissue injury to the left side of his neck as a result of the accident and that he still experiences pain in the left side of his neck that radiates into his upper left trapezius muscle area. The injury can be described as mild to moderate in nature but has developed an element of chronic pain that continues to bother Mr. Szymanski. The pain is most evident when Mr. Szymanski works. His job as a hardwood floor installer is physically demanding although he has been able to find contracts that are less demanding than what he undertook prior to the accident. This chronic neck pain still manifests itself some four years after the accident, albeit significantly reduced from what it was immediately after the accident and the two years following the accident.
 Mr. Szymanski is a stoic and determined person. Despite the neck and upper left trapezius pain he has tried to remain physically active but is less active than he was prior to the accident. He no longer goes for long hikes, electing shorter slower walks, he no longer canoes, he hunts less than he did prior to the accident, primarily by reducing the number of hours he goes out hunting. His injuries have impacted on his ability to contribute to various household chores such as vacuuming and washing dishes, and he is not able to conduct the home renovations at the pace he had set before the accident. He no longer socializes to the extent he used to prior to the accident because of the chronic pain and fatigue he experiences. His plan of retiring and building and opening a bed and breakfast may well be compromised by the continuing pain he experiences and thus is a further component in the assessment of impairment and loss of his previous lifestyle.
 Taking into account all of these circumstances, the referenced authorities and the nature of Mr. Szymanski’s injuries, the fact that the injury of real consequence was to the left side of his neck, and the upper left trapezius muscles that lead to his left shoulder, the relatively enduring nature of this injury, the pain he has suffered and may continue to experience in the future, as well as the fact that he suffered some diminishment in lifestyle, I assess non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $75,000.
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