$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment For Annular Tear
(Disk Herniation Image via Wikipedia)
Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a vocationally disabling spine injury.
In last week’s case (Peers v. Bodkin Leasing Corporation) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 rear end collision. Fault was admitted by the rear motorist focusing the trial on the extent of the Plaintiff’s injuries.
The Plaintiff worked his whole life in the forest industry as a boom boat operator. The collision caused a spine injury (an annular tear which left him vulnerable to disk herniation) which fully disabled the Plaintiff from his own profession and largely disabled him from other professions. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 Madam Justice Humphries provided the following reasons:
 Dr. Kokan was of the view that the shocks experienced by Mr. Peers this past spring indicated an annular tear as a result of the accident that may be progressing into a herniated disk. That could lead to neurological changes including numbness to his lower extremities and even weakness with loss of bowel and bladder control. Mr. Peers would likely need surgery which could reduce but not necessarily eliminate the pain…
 I am satisfied that Mr. Peers made a determined effort not to let the pain interfere with the work he loved, but it eventually proved too much for him, and he was force to quit. It may be that the shocks should be further investigated, and that Mr. Peers should not be as frightened of the potential for disk herniation as Dr. Kokan suggests. Nevertheless, I accept that pain from the accident was the eventual cause of Mr. Peers’ inability to continue to work as a boom boat operator and at physical jobs in general…
 Mr. Peers must cope with a life that is very different from the one he led previously, and at the age of 53, he is unlikely to return to the activities he loved, even at a reduced level. He has lost the ability to rely on his great strength and agility, which sustained his confidence and self-esteem, and although he can still participate in some activities, he is simply not the person he was. He has tried, since the accident, to stay in the working world which defined him, and to remain active and replace the sports he loved and excelled at with others that he could at least participate in. Since he quit work in March of this year when his symptoms became too much to handle and moved to Powell River, he describes a life which is reclusive and lonely.
 However, the future is not, in my view, completely bleak. While testifying, Mr. Peers displayed stoicism and a sense of humour, underneath his evident uncertainty about the turn his life has taken. Having only recently quit work, he is obviously still coming to terms with the need to find a different lifestyle to fulfil himself. He has a number of concerned friends and family members who worry about him and want to assist him in improving his life and increasing his social contacts. He has moved away from his long time home in the Gibsons/Roberts Creek area, but now lives near his son and grandchild. This should provide him with opportunities to join in community activities if he will avail himself of them.
 Nevertheless, the loss of his former work and lifestyle is profound. The cases cited by the defendants do not deal with such substantial loss. I accept the plaintiff’s position that non-pecuniary damages should be $85,000.