Skip to main content

$86,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Triggering of Symptoms in Pre Existing Degenerative Spine

Reasons for judgment were published today assessing damages for a collision resulting in various soft tissue injuries coupled with the onset of symptoms in a pre-existing degenerative spine.

In today’s case (Ryan v. Lawson) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2014 collision.  The Defendant accepted fault.  The crash resulted in a variety of soft tissue injuries many of which recovered.  THe crash also resulted in the onset of symptoms in a pre-existing albeit asymptomatic degenerative condition in the Plaintiff’s spine.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $86,000 Madam Justice Jackson made the following findings:

[44]         Based on the evidence, I find on a balance of probabilities that the Accident caused or contributed to the following injuries suffered by the Plaintiff:

·       altered mood and sleep patterns;

·       soft tissue injuries to the right side of his neck, which resolved within six months of the Accident;

·       headaches associated with the pain in his neck, both of which have mostly resolved;

·       the triggering of his pre-existing degenerative spine condition;

·       soft tissue injuries to his left lower back, with occasional radiation into his legs; and

·       lower back pain, which has improved since the time of the Accident but nonetheless has not fully resolved and will likely continue.

56]         In my view, taking into account the Stapley factors, the Plaintiff’s circumstances lie somewhere between those in Grigor and Noon.

[57]         In Grigor, the plaintiff was 49 years old and suffered soft tissue injuries that resolved within 18 months to two years. He also suffered a low back injury leaving him with chronic pain that was found by the trial judge unlikely to resolve. He was off work for two and a half years, and the trial judge noted that his injuries have changed his employability, which caused him stress and loss of enjoyment of his job.

[58]         In Noon, the plaintiff was 34 years old and suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck and upper back as a result of the collision. He also experienced headache associated with a neck injury, but the trial judge found these not to be “disabling”. While temporarily restricted to working part time, the plaintiff eventually returned to working full time. The trial judge also noted that the plaintiff’s symptoms did not limit his engagement in recreational activities and had diminished to the point of being “minimal”: at para. 221.

[59]         In this case, the Plaintiff continues to experience pain in his lower left back and hip with less frequent headaches. His neck pain had subsided within six months of the Accident. After considering the Stapley factors, inflation, and the cases provided by both parties, in the circumstances of this case, I find that a non-pecuniary award in the amount of $86,000 is appropriate in this case.

bc injury law, Madam Justice Jackson, onset of pain in pre-existing arthritis, Ryan v. Lawson