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$80,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment for C3-4 Disc Injury With Neuropathic Pain

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, awarding global damages of just over $90,000 as a result of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle collision.
In this week’s case (Lorenz v. Gosling) the Plaintiff was injured in 2006 collision.  Fault was admitted.  The Plaintiff’s symptoms included chronic neuropathic pain which was brought on following the collision as a result of “severe narrowing of the cord due to degeneration of the disc and facet joints at the C3-4 level of her cervical spine“.
The 56 year old plaintiff was left with chronic pain and limitations in her vocational and domestic responsibilities.   The Plaintiff was able to continue working despite her pain and nothing was awarded for diminished earning capacity.  Despite this her non-pecuniary damages were assessed at $80,000 with Mr. Justice Verhoeven providing the following reasons:

[30] Dr. Berkman’s opinion was that Mrs. Lorenz was suffering from persistent pain and weakness in her arms, and neck pain, resulting from the accident.  He says that she suffered a “significant injury to her spinal cord at the C3-4 level, with consequential development of neuropathic pain in her neck and upper limbs.”

[31] Dr. Berkman defined “neuropathic” as meaning a change in the perception of pain, and change in the processing of pain by the patient. In his opinion the pain had become “ingrained in her nervous system”.

[32] He suggested pain education, psychological support and occupational therapy.

[33] Dr. Berkman also suggested a consultation with a neurosurgeon in order to consider the advisability of surgery.  In the absence of neurosurgery, he suggested treatment such as Botox or subcutaneous Lidocaine, or a spinal cord stimulator…

[42] On the medical evidence, therefore, I am left with a substantial lack of clarity as to whether the complaints of Mrs. Lorenz are essentially permanent.  Nonetheless, I am obliged to make findings on the evidence as it is.  I conclude that there is a substantial risk that she will not experience a significant improvement in her present symptoms and complaints.  I am unable to find that this is a probable outcome.

[43] There is no question in this case that her complaints arise from the motor vehicle accident…

[97] After considering all of the authorities cited to me, and on the findings that I have made, I consider that the sum of $80,000 represents a fit and proper award for non pecuniary loss in this case.

bc injury law, C3-4 Injury, disc injury, Lorenz v. Gosling, Mr. Justice Verhoeven, neuropathic pain