Tag: disc herniation

More on BC Personal Injury Claims and the Duty to Mitigate

If you advance a BC Personal Injury Claim (a tort claim) the courts impose a duty on Plaintiffs to mitigate their losses.  What this means is a Plaintiff must take reasonable steps to minimize their losses.  If a Plaintiff unreasonably fails to follow medical advice or fails to return to work in a timely fashion despite being physically able to do so the court may reduce damages accordingly.
Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating this legal principle.
In today’s case (Leung v. Foo) the Plaintiff was injured when travelling as a passenger in a single vehicle collision.   Fault was admitted by the driver of the Plaintiff’s vehicle.   The Plaintiff sustained ‘moderate soft tissue injuries’ and a disc herniation as a result of this collision.   Mr. Justice Cohen valued the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary loss (pain and suffering) at $65,000 and then reduced these damages by 10% due to the Plaintiff’s ‘failure to mitigate ‘.  The Court summarized and applied this area of law as follows:

[112] The defendants submit that any award of damages should be reduced to reflect the plaintiff’s failure to mitigate through her delay in seeking psychological assistance, her refusal to participate in physiotherapy, her being discharged from CBI, and her failure to pursue an active exercise program in the face of medical advice to do so.

[113] Damages are not recoverable for any loss that a claimant ought to have avoided.  A claimant has a duty to mitigate losses, which includes taking all reasonable steps to minimize any loss that results from an injury, and bars a claimant from claiming any part of the damages that can be attributed to his or her neglect to take such steps.

[114] Mitigation limits recovery based on an unreasonable failure of the injured party to take reasonable steps to limit his or her loss.  A plaintiff in a personal injury action has a positive duty to mitigate, though the onus of proof on this issue rests with the defendant.  See: Graham v. Rogers, 2001 BCCA 432, leave to appeal dismissed, [2001] S.C.C.A. No. 467.

[115] In Maslen v. Rubenstein, at para. 11, the Court of Appeal held that where the court finds that injury has been suffered and mitigation issues are raised, the court must decide whether the defendant has established that by following advice which the plaintiff received or ought to have obtained, the plaintiff could have overcome the problem or could in future overcome it.  The advice might, for instance, be to eliminate treatment, make “lifestyle changes” or adopt psychotherapy, physiotherapy or an exercise regimen.  Where appropriate remedial measures would resolve the problem, damages can be awarded only in respect of the period up to the date when, in the estimation of the fact-finder, the problem ought to have been resolved, or ought to be resolved.

[116] Failure to follow a recommended exercise program commonly results in a reduction in damages for the plaintiff’s failure to mitigate.

[117] The defendants submit that the plaintiff has not given a satisfactory explanation as to why she did not exercise.  In addition, the plaintiff would have the Court accept that she did not seek the assistance of a psychologist because she lacked the sophistication necessary to do so in the face of her perception that Dr. Leung refused to give her a referral.

[118] The defendants submit that the plaintiff’s actions do not suggest a woman incapable of securing her own treatment.  On the contrary, the plaintiff took several proactive steps in relation to the treatment of her injuries.  The plaintiff found another GP in Dr. Wong, having lost faith in Dr. Leung; arranged her own massage and chiropractic treatments; discontinued physiotherapy; and decided against the steroid injections suggested by Dr. Adrian.

[119] The defendants also say that it is clear that counselling was discussed with the plaintiff in March 2008 by Dr. Wong.  Yet the plaintiff did not see Dr. Jung until September 2008, approximately six months later.  This is not evidence of a person anxious to obtain psychological treatment.  Rather, such delay and ambivalence is consistent with a person who was told that psychological treatment was recommended in 2006 (via Dr. Leung’s May 2nd medical-legal report) but failed to take any immediate steps in that regard.  The plaintiff herself admitted that she did not pursue psychological treatment or start an exercise regimen because she was too busy with work.  She gave the same reason for missing appointments with CBI.

[120] The defendants submit that plaintiff’s decisions to not pursue treatment may well have delayed or prevented the improvement of her symptoms, a state of affairs for which the defendants should not be held responsible.

[121] I agree with the defence position on mitigation and find that the plaintiff’s failure to mitigate resulted in an extension of her recovery beyond that considered reasonable for her injuries, and that the plaintiff’s general damages award should be reduced by 10%.

ICBC Pain and Suffering Round-Up

With the Canucks losing game 6 and the series to the Blackhawks I figured its a fitting time to write about Pain and Suffering Claims in BC.
In the first case, Chan v. Kao, the Plaintiff suffered a left shoulder injury as a result of a 2006 motor vehicle collision.   Mr. Justice Verhoeven had credibility concerns with respect to some aspects of the Plaintiff’s testimony.  Despite this he concluded that “I have no difficulty in finding that Mr. Chan did in fact injure his left shoulder in the motor vehicle accident“.
In assessing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary loss (damages for pain and suffering) at $22,000 the court summarized his injuries and prognosis as follows:
[65]            I accept that Mr. Chan has continued to have shoulder problems and pain since the accident.  The extent to which this has affected his work is impossible to gauge, in view of the unreliability of his evidence.  It seems likely that Mr. Chan has worked at various times and places since the accident, but has chosen not to testify about that work…

72]            In summary, I accept that the plaintiff’s left shoulder was injured in the motor vehicle accident, and that he continues to suffer, to some extent, from shoulder difficulties initially caused by the accident.  The evidence as to the extent to which the ongoing shoulder problem causes the plaintiff ongoing difficulty and disability with respect to his ability to work is subject to considerable doubt, due to the unreliability of the plaintiff’s evidence in this respect, and the lack of corroborating evidence.

[73]            While Dr. Lui’s prognosis of permanent disability is overly pessimistic, both orthopaedic surgeons are of the view that there are ongoing problems in the shoulder which require treatment.  In my view, treatment options have not been adequately explored.

In addition to referencing several cases dealing with pain and suffering values in BC for shoulder injuries this claim is worth reviewing to see how Mr. Justice Verhoeven dealt with his concerns regarding the credibility of certain aspects of the Plaintiff’s evidence.

The second ICBC Pain and Suffering Claim released today (Mattu v. Fust) involved a 2004 collision.  The Plaintiff was 39 years old at the time.  His vehicle was rear-ended with enough force to push it into the vehicle ahead of him.

The Plaintiff suffered various soft tissue injuries leading to chronic pain and headaches.  The court found that the effects of these would likely be permanent.  Madam Justice Brown summarized the medical evidence of the Plaintiff’s treating family physician as follows:

 

[31]            Dr. Parhar has been Mr. Mattu’s family physician since April 2004. He provided three reports to the court. In his first report of November 1, 2004, he diagnosed Mr. Mattu with paracervical, parathoracic and paralumbar muscle strain, left shoulder strain and muscle tension headaches.  He had received ice, heat, rest, exercises, massage therapy, kinesiology, acupuncture, herbal medicine and medications: anti-inflamatories, analgesics and muscle relaxants.  With respect to prognosis and recommendations, Dr. Parhar was impressed by Mr. Mattu’s motivation to recover and try different treatments, but was concerned that he may be trying too many modalities.  He recommended limiting treatment to massage and physiotherapy and increasing active modalities such as swimming and exercises.  He anticipated further treatment and improvement.

[32]            In his report of May 26, 2006, Dr. Parhar found that Mr. Mattu continued to have decreased range of motion in the cervical spine, tenderness in the paracervical and paralumbar regions.  He found muscle spasm in the paracervical and paralumbar regions.  His diagnosis remained the same.  His prognosis for full recovery had worsened.  Mr. Mattu had tried a variety of treatments with minimal success.  Dr. Parhar’s recommendations were unchanged, but he thought that Mr. Mattu’s condition had plateaued.

[33]            In his final report of September 16, 2008, Dr. Parhar considered the MRIs of Mr. Mattu’s spine taken September 19, 2006, and July 28, 2008, and concluded that Mr. Mattu’s injuries included cervical and thoracic disc herniations.  He said: “… it is unclear if the cervical and thoracic disc herniations were caused by the motor vehicle accident … but certainly, this motor vehicle accident made these spinal lesions symptomatic.”  He commented on Mr. Mattu’s efforts to recover: “… pursued many more modalities of treatment than most patients would have. Despite all of these modalities his pain symptoms persist.”  He concluded that the prognosis for a full recovery was poor, that Mr. Mattu’s condition had plateaued and further improvement in his functioning or symptomatology was unlikely  

In awarding $60,000 for the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary loss injuries and their effect on the Plaintiff’s life the court accepted the family physicians evidence and stated as follows  

[60]            I found the evidence of Dr. Parhar to be very helpful.  Dr. Parhar has seen Mr. Mattu regularly since shortly after the accident.  I accept his opinion that Mr. Mattu suffered paracervical, parathoracic and paralumbar muscle strain, left shoulder strain and muscle tension headaches from the accident; that his condition has plateaued; and that it is unlikely there will be further improvement.  I also accept the opinions of Drs. Parhar, Hershler and Hunt that the accident likely caused the disc herniations in Mr. Mattu’s back to become symptomatic.  Mr. Mattu will continue to need chiropractic treatment from time to time and would benefit from a personal trainer.

[61]            I have considered the cases which counsel have provided to me.  In my view, an appropriate award for non-pecuniary loss is $60,000.

ICBC Claims, Future Wage Loss and the Ability to Work in Your Chosen Profession

Imagine sustaining permanent and partially disabling injuries in a BC Car Accident through the fault of another.  Despite your permanent injuries you are able to carry on in your own chosen profession.  Are you entitled to be compensated for future wage loss in your ICBC tort claim or does the fact that you can work in your own occupation restrict such an award?  Reasons for judgement were released by the BC Supreme Court today dealing with this issue.
In today’s case (Ayoubee v. Campbell) the now 34 year old Plaintiff was injured in a multiple vehicle collision which occurred in September, 2003.    The Plaintiff sustained serious injuries including a herniated disc (at the L5 / S1 Level) with associated pain down his leg and mechanical back pain in the collision.  At the time of the accident he had just begun a computer course at BCIT and intended to make a career from the opportunities that this education would provide.  Despite his serious injuries he was able to complete his studies then found and maintained employment in his chosen field.
In awarding $100,000 for non-pecuniary damages the court accepted that the Plaintiff will have some permanent pain and made came to the following conclusion with respect to his injuries:
[104]        I accept Mr. Ayoubee’s evidence that he has never been pain free since the accident, although he has managed to control the level of pain through exercise and stretching.  He has attempted to function as fully as he can, despite the limitations he now contends with.  In the past year, however, his leg has deteriorated and the quality of his life has diminished even further.  Surgery may help with the pain, but he will likely be left with residual numbness and discomfort, and the back pain will remain.  As a result of the accident, he has lost the quality of life of an active young man.
Madam Justice Humphries engaged in a lengthy discussion addressing the Plaintiff’s loss of future earning capacity.  The court found that given the Plaintiff’s permanent injuries certain occupations will be closed to the Plaintiff, however, the Plaintiff ‘is not foreclosed form the type of job he was training for at the time of the accident, obtained after the accident, and has held full-time employment ever since.’
In assessing the Plaintiff’s impaired earning capacity (future wage loss) at $80,000 Madam Justice Humphries made the following analysis:

[89]            In my view, this is a case in which it would be more appropriate to award a lump sum for loss of capacity.  There are a significant number of jobs that Mr. Ayoubee can no longer do, jobs of the type he once held and which could still provide him with opportunities for part time income enhancement that he now must forego.

[90]            As well, he is not as attractive an employee on the open labour market as he once was, given his chronic pain and inability to work without breaks.

[91]            He will also be unable to work while he recovers from surgery, which it is likely he will undergo once he has seen Dr. Dommisse.  Dr. Yu suggests the recovery time would be two or three months.  The defendants calculate the loss attributable to those months, reduced by the possibility that Mr. Ayoubee might decide not to have the surgery, and suggested that the applicable rate should be his salary level in 2005 when, in their position, he should have mitigated his damages.  The defendants arrived at a figure of approximately $7,700.  The plaintiff did not address that issue.

[92]            Surgery may improve Mr. Ayoubee’s leg pain, although the doctors differ on whether this is still realistic.  In any even he will be left with back pain.  I take into account that, of the two, the leg pain has always been the most severe, and is the cause of his greater restrictions at present.  On the other hand, given the back pain, there is no suggestion that he will be able to undertake moderate to heavy physical employment again.

[93]            An important factor that distinguishes Mr. Ayoubee’s case from those in which very high awards have been made for future loss is that he is not foreclosed from the type of job he was training for at the time of the accident, obtained after the accident, and has held full-time ever since.  He does not require retraining.  His employability does not depend on his ability to do heavy physical labour and he never intended that it should, although there is a substantial possibility that he might have supplemented his income occasionally with the type of job he held at Rona, if he were still able to do so.  

[94]            Considering that some future wage loss will be attributable to the surgery, and considering the diminution in the capital asset of his employability generally, I set his future loss, including his loss of capacity, at $80,000.

ICBC Claims, Medical Experts and Evasive Opinions

Reasons for judgement were released today awarding a Plaintiff $50,000 for non-pecuniary loss (pain and suffering) as a result of injuries sustained in a 2004 rear-end BC car crash.
The Plaintiff suffered various injuries including chronic pain, a disc herniation in her neck, a soft tissue injury to her neck, anxiety and depression.  The chronic pain was the most significant symptom that was focused on at trial.
The Plaintiff called various witnesses to support her injuries including her family doctor.  The Defendant, on the other hand, relied on the opinion of an ‘independent medical examiner’ who ICBC frequently uses in the defence of car accident injury claims (Dr. Schweigel).
In awarding $50,000 for pain and suffering the Court made the following findings:

[26]            I am satisfied that as the result of the Defendants’ negligence, the Plaintiff suffered an injury to her shoulder and knee, a soft tissue injury to her neck and back which included a disc herniation; and an aggravation of her anxiety disorder and depression symptoms.

[27]            Specifically, with respect to her psychological injuries, I am satisfied that as a result of the collision her anxiety disorder and depression symptoms worsened, and that the worsening included the development of additional phobias such as a fear of crowds, social interaction, and driving.  There has been some improvement with respect to these symptoms.  For example, the Plaintiff is now able to drive her vehicle and her fear of social interactions has lessened some.

[28]            There has also been some improvement in her physical injuries.  In particular, her knee and shoulder injuries resolved within a short period.

[29]            As far as her chronic pain injury is concerned, I am satisfied that it arises primarily from the soft tissue injuries to her neck and back and from her disc herniation.  However, the severity of the pain from these injuries is aggravated or intensified by her anxiety disorders.  As her anxiety or stress levels increase, her chronic pain also increases in severity.

In ICBC injury claims judges and juries are often asked to pick between competing medical opinion evidence.  It is not uncommon to read reasons for judgment in ICBC injury claims where a Plaintiff’s treating physicians support injuries while ICBC’s doctors testify that the injuries are not related to the trauma or that the injuries are not as severe as presented by the Plaintiff.
In today’s case Madam Justice Sinclair Prowse gave the following reasons in preferring the treating doctor’s opinion over Dr. Schweigel’s.  Cases such as this one are worth reviewing for anyone preparing to take their ICBC injury claim to trial where there is competing medical evidence:

[34]            In any event, on all material issues, the Plaintiff’s evidence was consistent with and supported by other evidence.  In particular, the evidence of her injuries was supported by the evidence of her family doctor, Dr. Leong – a witness whom I found to be credible and on whose evidence I relied.

[35]            As the Plaintiff’s treating physician, Dr. Leong had seen the Plaintiff over a long period of time. Dr. Schweigel, on the other hand, only saw the Plaintiff on one occasion for about an hour to an hour and a half.

[36]            Throughout her testimony, Dr. Leong presented as a measured person who was endeavouring to be clear, accurate and fair.  Her answers were thoughtful and balanced.  Her testimony was both internally consistent and consistent with the other evidence.

[37]            For example, it was Dr. Leong’s opinion that the collision caused the Plaintiff’s disc herniation in one of two ways:  (1) either the collision caused the herniation completely; or (2) if the herniation pre-dated the collision, then the collision caused the herniation to become symptomatic.  This evidence was based on the fact that the Plaintiff did not display any symptoms of cervical disc herniation prior to the collision.  Although she had experienced some pain in her neck which had occasioned the earlier x-ray, that pain was occasional rather than chronic.  It was also different in kind from the type of pain that can arise from disc herniation and that the Plaintiff experienced after the collision.  Furthermore, the x-ray taken shortly before the collision did not show a disc herniation.

[38]            Dr. Schweigel, on the other hand, was evasive and argumentative in his evidence.  He gave opinions in this trial that were inconsistent with opinions that he had tendered in other trials, demonstrating that he was not impartial but, rather, tailored his evidence to favour the party that had called him.  For example, in this trial he opined that arthritis could not be triggered by trauma whereas in another action he gave the opposite opinion.

[39]            Dr. Schweigel opined that the Plaintiff had suffered a mild soft tissue injury to her neck and back as a result of this collision and that that injury had probably resolved itself within 3 to 4 months.  He opined that the disc herniation pre-dated the collision as such conditions can arise from a longstanding arthritic condition and that, in any event, the Plaintiff’s chronic pain arose from neither the herniation specifically nor the collision generally but, rather, from her psychological or psychosomatic problems.

[40]            However, during cross-examination, he did concede that trauma could trigger further degeneration. He further went on to testify that if this injury did not pre-date the collision, that it would probably have arisen within 2 to 3 years to a maximum of 5 years.  In my view, this opinion contradicts his initial opinion that a disc herniation cannot be caused by trauma or become symptomatic because of trauma.

[41]            For all of these reasons, I found Dr. Schweigel’s evidence to be unreliable.  I preferred the opinion of Dr. Leong.  Where her opinion differed from the opinion of Dr. Schweigel, I relied upon her opinion.

$70,000 Non Pecuniary Damages for Disc Herniation and Labral Tear

Reasons for judgement were released today awarding a Plaintiff close to $120,000 in damages as a result of a 2006 BC car accident.
The accident occurred when the Defendant failed to see the Plaintiff’s vehicle and struck the driver’s side door of the Plaintiff’s vehicle.
All the doctors who gave evidence at trial agreed that the Plaintiff ‘suffered a slight tear to the cartilage of her left hip (a labral tear) and a disc bulge in the lumbar spine, and that these two conditions contribute to her ongoing pain…’
The issue at trial was one of causation, that is, did this accident (which apparently did not cause a lot of vehicle damage) cause the Labral tear?  After hearing from several medical witnesses Madam Justice Gerow concluded that there was a causal connection, finding that ‘I accept the opinions of Dr. Gilbart and Dr. Sahjpaul that the accident either caused the disc herniation and the labral tear, or caused those asymptomatic conditions to become symptomatic, and that (the Plaintiff’s) degenerative disease is minimal at this point.’
Dealing with the argument ICBC often makes at LVI trials (low velocity impact) that ‘the force of the accident was not such that it could have caused the injuries to the lumbar spine’ Madam Justice Gerow stated as follows:

35]            The evidence is that the defendants’ vehicle struck the driver’s side of Ms. Grant’s vehicle.  The defendants argue that the cost of repair of approximately $1200 indicates that this was a relatively minor accident and, therefore, unlikely to have caused the plaintiff’s ongoing injuries. 

[36]            Although the force of the impact is a factor to be considered in assessing the injuries sustained in an accident, it is only one factor to be considered.  The nature and extent of the injuries suffered by a plaintiff should be assessed on the basis of all of the evidence.

[37]            As noted by Thackray J. (as he then was) in Gordon v. Palmer (1993), 78 B.C.L.R. (2d) 236 (S.C.):

Significant injuries can be caused by the most casual of slips and falls.  Conversely, accidents causing extensive property damage may leave those involved unscathed.

In the end, damages were assessed as follows:

Non Pecuniary Damages: $70,000

Past Wage Loss: $13,452

Loss of Earning Capacity: $30,000

Special Damages: $1,498

Cost of Future Care: $5,000

This case is worth reading for anyone advancing an ICBC claim where the issue of causation of a disc bulge is at issue to see the types of competing positions that can be advanced by the doctors at trial along with the analysis that a court can engage in to navigate the waters of expert opinions.

BC Supreme Court Awards $75,000 Pain and Suffering for Soft Tissue Injuries – Disc Herniation Claim Dismissed

In reasons for judgment released today, the BC Supreme Court valued a Plaintiff’s pain and suffering at $75,000 for soft tissue injuries.
The Plaintiff was a nurse’s aid. She was injured in a BC car accident which occurred in 2004 in New Westminster. The crash occurred at an intersection and both liability (fault) and quantum (value of injuries) were in dispute at trial. This is often the case when ICBC injury claims resulting from an intersection crash go to trial.
The Plaintiff was making a right hand turn. When starting her turn she felt it was safe to do so. At about the same time the Defendant was proceeding through the intersection and had recently changed into the right hand lane. Both motorists failed to recognize the hazard they posed to each other until it was too late.
The court found that both drivers were at fault. The Plaintiff was liable for ‘not keeping a proper lookout’ and that she should have seen the Defendant travelling in the curb lane prior to the collision.
The defendant was also found at fault for changing lanes at an unsafe time. The key finding is made at paragraph 70 where the court held that:
I find that at the time that the defendant changed lanes on Braid from the eastbound inside lane to the curb lane, 80 feet west of the intersection of Garrett and Braid, the plaintiff had already left the stop sign on Garrett and was in the process of making a right hand turn into the eastbound curb lane on Braid. I find that in making his lane change at this point on Braid the defendant was in such close proximity to the plaintiff’s car that his lane change could not be made safely. The weight of the evidence leaves no doubt that the defendant’s van was far too close to the plaintiff’s car for the defendant’s change of lanes to be made safely.
When 2 or more people are responsible for a BC car accident the Negligence Act requires a court to apportion fault between the parties. In this case the court held that both the Plaintiff and Defendant were 50% at fault for the accident. In doing so the court stated that “I do not think it can be found that blame for the accident rests more with one party than the other. In my opinion, they are equally guilty of breaching the rules of the road.”
The Plaintiff was a nurse’s aid. She claimed that as a result of the accident she became disabled from not only that job but also from ‘any other employment at a competitive level’
The Plaintiff’s doctor diagnosed the following injuries:

1) New large left central parracentral disc herniation posterior to the L5 vertebral body secondary to new onset degenerative L5/S1 disc change. This would be rated severe.

2) Left L5/S1 nerve root compression, also rated severe.

3) Milder degenerative changes at L3/L4, L4/L5 levels with early neural foraminal stenosis at L4/L5 and L5/S1, which are rated moderate to severe.

4) New onset degenerative CT spine changes rated moderate.

5) Musculoskeletal changes within the left side of her body, left arm, left chest, left hip and left leg, resolved within a week or two after the motor vehicle injury, rated mild.

6) Iatrogenic hypertension secondary to COX-2 inhibitor use for the treatment of the patient’s back injuries.

The bulk of the reasons for judgement focused on causation, that is, whether the above injuries were related to the accident or to other causes. As with most ICBC injury claims, the court heard from several ‘expert witnesses’ who commented on the plaintiff’s injuries and their cause.
In the end the court found that the Plaintiff failed to prove that the accident caused her disc herniation. The key findings can be found at paragraph 317 where the court held that:

[317] In the result, I find that the evidence does not establish a temporal link between the accident and the onset of the plaintiff’s low back symptoms ultimately leading to the diagnosis of disc herniation and disc herniation surgery. In my opinion, the plaintiff has failed to prove on a balance of probabilities that the accident caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s disc herniation. She has failed to prove that her disc herniation would not have occurred but for the negligence of the defendants.

[318] In arriving at this conclusion I accept the opinion of Dr. Maloon, in preference to that of the plaintiff’s medical experts, that the soft tissue injuries the plaintiff sustained in the accident would not have been “significant enough to alter the natural history of her neck or low back condition” and that the “disc herniation would be the result of the natural history of the lumbar degenerative disc disease and not the result of injuries that she may have sustained in [the accident].”

Since the court did not find the disc herniation related to the accident damages were assessed for soft tissue injuries. The court made the following finding prior to valuing the injuries at $75,000 for pain and suffering:

[327] I find that the plaintiff sustained mild to moderate soft tissue injuries to her neck and back as a result of the accident which have had an affect on her personal, employment, social and recreational pursuits and activities. However, I also find that the plaintiff has failed to establish that the injuries sustained by her in the accident have caused her disability from employment.

[328] In the result, I find that the plaintiff’s award for general damages should be based on the fact that her condition had improved and recovered to the stage that by March 4, 2005 he felt well enough to return to work on a gradual basis. Moreover, I find that the fact her physical and emotional condition deteriorated after her fall on March 5, 2005 cannot be attributed to the injuries she sustained in the accident.

The Plaintiff’s award was then cut by 50% to reflect the fact that she was 50% responsible for the accident. This is the direct result of ‘contributory negligent’ in ICBC injury cases. If a Plaintiff is any percent at fault then the value of what can be recovered in tort is reduced by that percentage.
Do you have questions about this case or about an ICBC injury claim involving soft tissue injuries or a disk herniation? If so please click here to arrange your free consultation with Victoria ICBC Claims Lawyer Erik Magraken (Services provided for ICBC injury claims throughout BC!)

$550,828 Awarded for Chronic Pain and Disc Herniation

In reasons for judgement released today, Madam Justice Morrison awarded a total of $550,828 in compensation for an August, 2004 motor vehicle collision.
The Plaintiff was a 45 year old senior commercial lines insurance underwriter. She was injured in a rear-end collision. As in most ICBC rear-end collisions, the defence lawyer admitted fault on behalf of the defendant leaving only quantum of damages (value of the claim) at issue.
A neurosurgeon who testified on behalf of the Plaintiff was found to give ‘compelling’ evidence. In summarizing the Plaintiff’s injuries the neurosurgon stated as follows
My diagnosis is soft tissue injuries to the lumbar spine, referable to the motor vehicle accident in question, traumatic left L3-4 disc herniation causing left L4 nerve root pain and contributing to low back pain. In my opinion, it is also possible that the motor vehicle accident may have negatively impacted on the eventual outcome from the right L5-S1 disc herniation. The preoperative CT scan did show a focal disc herniation at the right L5-S1 level. This was confirmed on the post motor vehicle accident MRI scan. It is conceivable that the force that was sustained during the motor vehicle accident could have further damaged the compressed right S1 nerve root. In other words, were it not for the accident, her outcome from the right L5-S1 discectomy may have been better
Commenting on the vocational impact of the injuries the Plaintiff’s neurosurgeon stated that:
It is my opinion that (the Plaintiff) will be left with permanent back pain. This will result in some limitation of her vocational potential, especially as it relates to jobs that require a lot of sitting, repetitive twisting or turning of the lumbar spine, or lifting.
The trial judge reached a favourable conclusion regarding the Plaintiff’s claim stating that:
On causation, I am satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that the motor vehicle accident of August 8, 2004, more likely than not, was the cause, or contributed to the injuries of the plaintiff. No other conclusion makes sense. The chronic pain would not have occurred except for that accident. I conclude, on a balance of probabilities, that the right-sided pain would not have recurred, but for that accident, and that the left-sided pain was due to the accident, without question
After accepting virtually all of the Plaintiff’s evidence Madam Justice Morrison awarded damages as follows:
Non Pecuniary Damages (pain and suffering): $100,000
Special Damages: $7,828
Past Income Loss: $73,000
Loss of income earning capacity: $200,000
Cost of Future Care: $170,000

  • 1
  • 2

Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
Erik’s Philosophy

Disclaimer