$80,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Fractured Wrist With Residual Complicaitons

Adding to this site’s archived database addressing damages for wrist injuries, reasons for judgement were released this week by BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with a wrist fracture following a cyclist collision.
In this week’s case (Jang v. Ritchie) the Plaintiff was walking along a trail when the Defendant “was cycling along the same trail travelling in the same direction as Mr. and Mrs. Jang. Mr. Ritchie lost control of his bicycle and drove into Mr. Jang striking him in the back“.  The Defendant was found fully at fault for the collision.  The Plaintiff broke his wrist which required immediate surgical attention and went on to cause long term limitations.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $80,000 Madam Justice Fenlon provided the following reasons:
[5]             I also find that Mr. Ritchie’s negligence caused Mr. Jang’s injuries. The injuries were fully described in the medical opinion of Dr. Melvin Serink, an orthopaedic surgeon. Dr. Serink stated in his opinion:
… [Mr. Jang] suffered a comminuted fracture involving his left distal radius and ulna. He subsequently was treated with a closed reduction and a Hoffman external fixator. Postoperatively he developed Sudeck’s dystrophy with generalized pain and swelling related to his wrist and PIP joints of his left hand. As a result of his injury, he has been left with permanent soft tissue contractures involving the PIP joints of the fingers involving his left hand. He also has been left with complaints of pain and weakness related to his left wrist associated with generalized stiffness. … [Mr. Jang] is aware of stiffness associated with loss of extension and flexion. As a result of his Sudeck’s he does have decreased power and dexterity related to the fingers of his left hand. …
His range of motion shows loss of extension and flexion by approximately 50% percent. Supination is decreased by approximately 20%. His power grip is significantly decreased secondary to generalized pain related to the PIP joints.
X-rays of his left wrist from January of this year [2012] [show] the complete loss of the space involving the radiocarpal joint. The un-united ulnar styloid is evident. The early osteophyte formation involving the distal radial styloid is also evident.
I have paraphrased slightly to insert Mr. Jang’s name and so on.
[6]             I accept Dr. Serink’s uncontradicted opinion in this case. His observations are consistent with Mr. Jang’s testimony and my own observations of Mr. Jang’s left hand, which is fixed in a somewhat claw-like position. I also find that Mr. Jang’s condition is permanent. The progressive nature of the injury-induced arthritis in his hand will, if anything, increase Mr. Jang’s symptoms as time goes by. Dr. Serink examined Mr. Jang and provided the following opinion in this regard:
As a result of the destruction of the articular cartilage involved in his original fracture, he has developed significant post-traumatic degenerative arthritis. The soft tissue contracture which occurs as a result of the Sudeck’s dystrophy will be permanent. As a result, he will be left with complaints of pain, weakness and generalized stiffness. These complaints will not significantly improve with rest, time or further physiotherapy. At the present time [Mr. Jang] is well motivated and is using Tylenol on a p.r.n. basis for pain control….
[11]         Mr. Jang was in a cast for three months and underwent extensive physiotherapy. Despite that, he continues to have constant pain. He described the pain as eight on a scale of 10. He gets shooting pains on activity. Mr. Jang manages the pain by using Tylenol 3 and heat and by massaging his hand.
[12]         Mrs. Jang touchingly described her husband of 30 years as “hard on the outside, but soft on the inside, a nice man”. She and her daughter, Angela, both described the difficulties they have observed Mr. Jang having now with even simple tasks such as opening a jar.
[13]         Counsel for Mr. Jang took me to a number of cases with somewhat similar facts including Paras v. Muirhead (1996), 71 B.C.A.C. 17; Ferguson v. All-Can Express Ltd., [1988] B.C.J. No. 78 (S.C.); Jackson v. Jeffries, 2012 BCSC 814; Lowe v. Larue, [1998] A.J. No. 1465 (Q.B.); and Kumlea v. Chaytors (1993), 76 B.C.L.R. (2d) 337 (C.A.). Counsel submits non-pecuniary damages in the range of $60,000 to $85,000 would be appropriate.
[14]         While the cases provided to me are helpful, they are not, of course, determinative. Each case must be decided on its own facts. The cases referred to me include some differences such as plaintiffs who are younger or plaintiffs with soft tissue injuries as well as a wrist injury. In many of the cases, the injuries the plaintiffs experienced were not as severe as the injury experienced by Mr. Jang.
[15]         Having considered all of the cases and the particular facts of this case, I am satisfied an award of $80,000 is appropriate for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

bc injury law, Jang v. Ritchie, Madam Justice Fenlon, radius fracture, ulnar fracture

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If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

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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