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$80,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Knee Injury

Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for a chronic knee injury caused by a collision.
In today’s case (Reddy v. Staples) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 collision that the Defendant accepted responsibility for.  The Plaintiff had pre-existing knee problems but the collision caused new injuries which aggravated his limitations.  The Court found the collision caused chondral injuries and these were responsible for 85% of the Plaintiff’s ongoing knee problems.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $80,000 Mr. Justice Blok provided the following reasons:

[115]     It is difficult to assess the contribution of each condition to the plaintiff’s current knee symptoms because the experts addressed this issue only in general, sometimes vague, terms.  It is reasonably clear that the meniscus damage that was already present at the time of the accident would have caused problems for the plaintiff, even absent the accident, until it was repaired in October 2009, and it might have continued to cause problems after that.  As Dr. Calvert said, “the majority of patients with an isolated meniscal injury do recover a good portion of their function post surgery”, thus suggesting that some do not.  Dr. Calvert said that even with just the meniscal damage and removal he would have counselled, post-surgery, against activities that involved repetitive impacts.  It is also clear from the evidence, however, that the chondral injuries to his patella and medial femoral condyle are more significant than was the pre-existing meniscal damage.  I also conclude that the risk of degenerative arthritis associated with just the meniscal injury was and is materially lower, and with a longer time frame, than it is with the chondral injuries, where osteoarthritis is already present.

[116]     Doing the best I can on an assessment of the whole of the evidence I would apportion the source of Mr. Reddy’s current and probable future knee problems as follows: 85% to the chondral injuries caused by the accident and 15% to his pre-existing meniscus damage…

[118]     I am satisfied that Mr. Reddy, 31 years old at the time of the accident, suffered a significant injury to his knee (the chondral injuries) as a result of the accident.  In addition, he had pain and stiffness in his back, neck and shoulder areas for a period of about four or five months.  His knee condition generally (that is, involving both pre-accident and accident-related causes) is frequently painful, restricts his activities and enjoyment of life, and causes him stress and anxiety.  On my assessment, 85% of those problems are attributable to the injuries he suffered in the accident.  The accident-caused injuries are degenerative, as is his pre-existing knee condition, though the degeneration associated with the accident injuries has already manifested itself and the degeneration associated with his pre-accident condition is likely to occur later, perhaps much later.

[119]     As Dr. Calvert noted, it is likely that the plaintiff will have persistent knee pain with weight-bearing activity.  He is likely to have increasing knee symptomatology in keeping with osteoarthritis and he may also require further arthroscopic surgery or even partial or full knee replacement surgery at some point in the future…

[125]     Based on the cases cited and a consideration of all of the Stapley v. Hejslet factors, and bearing in mind the 85-15 apportionment made previously concerning the cause of Mr. Reddy’s ongoing knee problems, I consider that non-pecuniary damages are appropriately assessed in the amount of $80,000.

bc injury law, chondral knee injury, Mr. Justice Blok, Reddy v. Staples