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BC Court of Appeal Awards $200,000 for Chronic Soft Tissue Injuries

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Court of Appeal addressing damages for chronic soft tissue injuries.
In today’s case (Taraviras v. Lovig) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2002 rear-end collision.  The Plaintiff suffered “primarily neck and back injuries with referred pain down his left leg“.  After a 10 day trial a Jury awarded the Plaintiff $691,000 in damages including $300,000 for non-pecuniary damages (pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life).
The Defendants appealed arguing this award was “wholly out of proportion to the loss (the Plaintiff) actually suffered”.  The BC Court of Appeal agreed and reduced the jury verdict by $100,000.   However, even after this reduction, this stands as one of the higher BC Injury damage assessments for chronic soft tissue injuries which are not totally disabling.  In concluding that this is a fair assessment the BC Court of Appeal provided the following useful reasons:

[34] This case is not one in which the victim has suffered catastrophic injury.  Mr. Taraviras’ permanent disability is, by all accounts, a moderate one, thus it is irrelevant how Mr. Taraviras’ injuries compare to those of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court Trilogy (Moskaleva at para. 132). …

[36] In my review of the non-pecuniary jury verdict in this case, I must accept that the jury resolved all evidentiary conflicts in favour of Mr. Taraviras.  I have described some of his evidence and I proceed on the assumption that the jury did accept this evidence.  In other words, the question to be resolved is – taking Mr. Taraviras’ case at its most favourable, is the award nevertheless so exorbitant that it would shock this Court’s conscience and sense of justice? (Moskaleva at para. 116; Whiten v. Pilot Insurance Co., 2002 SCC 18)….

[55] Here, Mr. Taraviras testified that his life had, in almost all respects, been affected by this accident.  He could no longer work in the same robust way he had worked previously.  His renovation and property acquisition business was limited by his inability to do the heavy maintenance and renovation work.  He could no longer participate in his previous active sporting life.  His personal relationships were affected by his short temper and more sedentary lifestyle.  He complained of constant pain in his leg and back.  He could no longer enjoy his employment.  Taking the plaintiff’s case at its most favourable, I would conclude that Mr. Taraviras’ injuries in this accident had a devastating effect on his previously active and energetic life.  I must assume that the jury did not accept the proposition advanced by the defendants that his pre and post-accident injuries were causative.

[56] Even accepting Mr. Taraviras’ case as I have, I am of the view the award for non-pecuniary damages does require appellate intervention.  This is one of those awards that is so out of all proportion to the circumstances of the case that it would shock the conscience of the court to leave it undisturbed.  It is wholly out of proportion to the injuries suffered by Mr. Taraviras and must be set aside.  In granting considerable deference to the jury and using the judge alone and appellate cases as some guidance, I would reduce the award from $300,000 to $200,000.

bc court of appeal, bc injury law, non-pecunairy damages, Taraviras v. Lovig