$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For L3-4, L4-5 Disc Injuries
Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages following a disc injury caused by a collision.
In this week’s case (Shipley v. Bye) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2010 rear end collision. The Defendant was found at fault. The Plaintiff suffered multilevel disc issues following the crash which continued to pose some problems at the time of trial. The Plaintiff worked at a warehouse and “was limited to unskilled or semi-skilled work“. While he was able to eventually return to his occupation the injuries were expected to limit his ability to engage in heavy physical demands. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 Madam Justice Kloegman provided the following reasons:
 In his report of September 17, 2013, Dr. Weiss concluded that:
1. The motor vehicle accident produced an acute discogenic injury at the L4-5 level with possible L5 nerve root irritation. The plaintiff’s radicular symptoms had resolved and the disc prolapse had retracted.
2. The current pain that the plaintiff was feeling was multi-factorial from a discogenic lesion at the L4-5 level, a pre-existing but a symptomatic dysplastic L3‑4 facet joint which had become inflamed from the accident, and soft tissue/ligamentous pain at the ilio-lumbar region which Dr. Weiss could not say was caused by the accident.
 Dr. Weiss also opined in his report of September 2013 that the plaintiff had lost the physical capacity and functionality to perform heavier forms of work related activity. He stated that it is also likely that the plaintiff will remain compromised in his ability to perform heavy physical work due to persistent back pain, some of which was directly attributable to the accident. Dr. Weiss could not say that the accident had caused any acceleration in degenerative disc disease of the plaintiff’s lower back.
 With the exception of the cause of the possible nerve root involvement at L5, Dr. Weiss’ conclusions were not challenged or contradicted and I accept them as accurate. I find that an L4-5 discogenic injury and an aggravation of a previously asymptomatic congenital dysplastic L3-4 facet joint were caused by the motor vehicle accident. Any other injuries or pain complained of by the plaintiff during the material time have not been proved, on a balance of probabilities, to have been caused by the subject accident…
 I have reviewed the authorities provided to me by both counsel, some of which were the same. The most factually similar cases are Esau v. Myles, 2010 BCSC 43; Roy v. Storvick, 2013 BCSC 1198; Peso v. Hollaway, 2012 BCSC 1763; and Jackson v. Jeffries, 2012 BCSC 814. It appears from these cases that the plaintiff’s damages are in the range of $70,000 to $100,000. In my view, the plaintiff here should be awarded the sum of $85,000 for non-pecuniary damages.