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Tag: Facet Joint Injury

$150,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Facet Joint Syndrome

Reasons for judgement were release today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic physical and psychological injuries following a motor vehicle collision.
In today’s case (Zwinge v. Neylan) the Plaintiff was invoked in a head on crash that the Defendant admitted responsibility for.  The collision resulted in a chronic facet joint syndrome of the spine, various soft tissue injuries and chronic pain leading to psychological difficulties.  This was imposed on pre-existing a substance abuse disorder.  The prognosis for recovery was poor.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $150,000 Mr. Justice Branch provided the following reasons:

[68]         In this case, I would summarize the significant factors as follows:

1.     The plaintiff was 49 years old at the time of the trial and 46 at the time of the accident.

2.     The substantial head-on collision caused long-lasting soft tissue injuries and spine facet joint syndrome.

3.     The plaintiff’s pain has, to this point, disabled him from working in any capacity, and has significantly reduced the quality of his life.

4.     The plaintiff suffers from depression as a result of the loss of his ability to work, and to play with his children.

5.     The plaintiff’s anxiety and physical condition have prevented him from driving, and have made routine chores out in public difficult.

6.     While the plaintiff has some prospect for recovery, his prognosis is guarded. Specifically, I find that Dr. Rickard’s confidence in the proposed radio frequency ablation treatment is overstated: see Gregory at paras. 56-58.

7.     The plaintiff suffered from a pre-existing and active Substance Use Disorder, and he did not seek further counselling for this problem after the accident.

8.     Since the accident, the plaintiff suffered from pneumonia, pancreatitis and diabetes, all of which would have occurred in any event.

9.     The plaintiff’s quality of life was already in a diminished state before the accident, in that he was living with his parents following a marriage breakdown that ended violently, resulting in criminal charges and a return to heavy drinking.

10. The plaintiff has been able to live independently and care for himself since the accident.

[71]         Applying the factors above, and with the guidance from the noted case law, I find that the appropriate amount for non-pecuniary damages is $150,000.

$70,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Facet Joint Injury

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for a chronic low back injury.
In this week’s case (Bearpark v. Lakhanpal) the Plaintiff was injured in two collisions.  The Defendants accepted fault.  The Plaintiff suffered injury to his facet joints in the L4-S1 region.  This caused chronic pain and resulted in restrictions in the Plaintiff’s ability to do heavier work.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $70,000 Mr. Justice Greyell provided the following reasons:
[100]     I am satisfied the evidence presents a consistent and reliable picture of the plaintiff’s injuries, which he did his best to describe in his evidence. His evidence was generally consistent with the findings of his physicians that in the two motor vehicle accidents he sustained and suffers from chronic lower back pain which originates from injury to his facet joints in the L4 – S1 region, shoulder pain which flares up (and was likely aggravated in the bus accidents) and neck pain. His neck pain has now mostly resolved…
[103]      Mr. Bearpark has been left with significant ongoing chronic lower back pain which I find is the result of an injury to his lower back in the L-5-S-1 area. I find this injury to be a direct result of the two motor vehicle accidents. The injury to his lower back bothers him more when he engages in heavy labour and limits him in the job functions he can perform. He is able to tolerate it in the sedentary position he now occupies with accommodations provided to him by his employer.
[104]      I find the injuries to his right shoulder, hand, and knee have mostly resolved. I find that his left shoulder is now more susceptible to injury as a result of an impingement in that shoulder and along with his neck, bothers him, and will likely continue to limit his functional ability when he engages in heavy labour. I find that the ongoing intermittent problems in his neck and left shoulder were caused by the motor vehicle accidents. His left shoulder injury may well have been aggravated by the First Bus Accident. That is, as the defendants submit, not a matter to be considered in this action.
[105]     The plaintiff’s main ongoing and persistent complaint is of ongoing pain in his lower back or organic problems in his lower spine as described above.
[106]     I also find that he is likely still bothered by symptoms of depression and Post Traumatic Stress, including difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and flashbacks to the motor vehicle accidents. The depression likely has an effect on the amount of pain he feels. As described in the medical evidence, the two often go hand in hand…
[110]     Mr. Bearpark is a relatively young man who, at the time of both motor vehicle accidents, had not yet settled into a career path. He was active in both sporting and social activities, although somewhat reserved and shy. The accidents have left him with ongoing chronic back pain, which limits his performance of heavier work involving lifting, bending or twisting, and intermittent pain in his neck and left shoulder. He will likely be restricted to sedentary work in the future as a result of the injuries to his back and shoulder. His physicians have recommended that conditioning and exercises may help him although, as stated above, his prognosis is “guarded”.
[111]     Taking into account the principles outlined in Stapley and the authorities referred to by counsel, I am of the view an appropriate award for non-pecuniary loss in this case is $70,000.

$40,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Chronic Whiplash and Possible Facet Joint Injury

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a chronic whiplash injury.
In last week’s case (Fiorda v. Say) the Plaintiff was involved in two collisions, the first in 2008 and the second in 2009.  The Plaintiff was not at fault for either crash.  Both collisions contributed to a chronic whiplash injury with possible facet joint involvement.  The symptoms of pain were still present by the time of trial and these were expected to carry into the future.  In assessing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $40,000 Madam Justice Holmes provided the following reasons:

[25] Dr. Gabriel Hirsch, specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, conducted an independent medical assessment on April 4, 2011.

[26] Dr. Hirsch concluded that in the first accident, Ms. Fiorda sustained relatively minor injuries to her neck, upper back, and shoulder girdle region, from which she had made a good recovery by the time of the second accident.  He concluded that absent the second accident, Ms. Fiorda probably would have made a full recovery from the first.

[27] Dr. Hirsch concluded that the second accident caused injuries to Ms. Fiorda’s neck, thoracic spine, and lumbar spine, which probably involved soft tissue structures, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  Given the accident mechanism as Ms. Fiorda had described it, it was also possible that Ms. Fiorda sustained an injury to a cervical facet joint.

[28] Dr. Hirsch recommended that Ms. Fiorda carry out a regular exercise program, ideally in a well-equipped community centre or gymnasium.  Because Ms. Fiorda had recently completed a functional restoration program under the guidance of a physiotherapist and kinesiologist, he felt she should be able to continue with a maintenance program on her own.  He recommended particular components of a regular exercise program for Ms. Fiorda to follow.

[29] Dr. Hirsch also suggested that Ms. Fiorda consider trigger point injections into the neck and shoulder girdle region, her most symptomatic areas.  He noted that those injections are funded by the Medical Services Plan.

[30] Dr. Hirsch noted that “there is some uncertainty” about whether Ms. Fiorda can continue in her work as a costume designer on a sustainable basis because of the long hours and many consecutive days, which do not allow her the opportunity to recuperate from a flare-up. ..

[45] In my view, the particular circumstances of Ms. Fiorda’s case support an award of $40,000.