Tag: femur injury

$140,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for "Very Serious" Femur Fracture

Adding to this site’s archived caselaw dealing with non-pecuniary damages for femur injuries, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, dealing with such a claim.
In this week’s case (Han v. Chahal) the Plaintiff pedestrian was injuries when she was struck by the Defendant’s vehicle while walking in a marked cross walk.  The Defendant was found fully responsible for the crash.  The Plaintiff suffered a variety of injuries the most serious of which was a fractured femur.  Although the Court found some issues with the Plaintiff’s reliability as a witness the Court did accept the injury left her with a degree of chronic pain and limited function.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $140,000 Mr. Justice Verhoeven provided the following reasons:
[154]     In summary, the plaintiff was physically healthy prior to the accident.  She suffered a very serious injury to her femur and a moderate injury to her wrist.  These injuries have healed uneventfully from a physical point of view, after two surgeries to her leg.  No specific ongoing organic cause for her hip pain has been established.  Although she likely overstates her degree of disability, she has developed chronic pain, in relation to several areas of her body.  She has depression and anxiety.
[155]     Her major complaint of pain is with respect to her left hip.  When she saw Dr. Chin February 3, 2010, about 14 months after the accident, she had 75% to 80% improvement in her orthopedic injuries, but since then she has development several new pain complaints and, overall, her condition has not improved.  Her chronic pain and depression have resulted in altered mood, lack of energy, fatigue, irritability, and some cognitive difficulties.
[156]     The accident caused a drastic change to the plaintiff’s pre-accident health, lifestyle, and enjoyment of life.  I accept that to date, more than four years post-accident, the plaintiff continues to suffer significantly from the effects of the accident.
[157]     However, the assessment of her loss is complicated by the fact that her evidence is somewhat unreliable.  Further, treatment options have not yet been explored, and the prognosis is uncertain.  There is a substantial risk of pain, suffering, and disability persisting indefinitely.  The preliminary prognosis for complete recovery is negative.  The potential extent of recovery is unclear…
[173]     Having regard to all of the non-exhaustive list of factors commonly considered in relation to assessment of damages for non-pecuniary loss, as set out in Stapley, in the circumstances of this case and bearing in mind the authorities to which I have referred, in my view the appropriate award for non-pecuniary loss is $140,000.

$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Fractured Femur With Permanent Partial Restrictions

It is rare to find caselaw dealing with damages for a femur fracture alone as the forces required to break the body’s biggest bone usually also result in other complex injuries.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry, dealing with such an injury without significant complication from other factors.
In this week’s case (Gravelle v. Seargeant) the Plaintiff pedestrian was struck by the Defendant’s vehicle while he was walking on the shoulder of a road.  The impact threw the plaintiff between and 30 feet.  He suffered a fractured right femur which required surgical interventions.  Despite a relatively good recovery he was expected to have some permanent level of restriction due to his injury.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 Mr. Justice Kelleher provided the following reasons:
[50]         The following is the application of these factors to the plaintiff:
(a)      Age of the plaintiff: 
Mr. Gravelle was 16 when the accident happened.  The evidence establishes that he will likely suffer some measure of pain for the rest of his life.
(b)      Nature of the injury:
Mr. Gravelle suffered a fractured right femur that required an open reduction and insertion of an intramedullary nail and locking screws.  He also suffered injuries to his low back, right groin and right knee, which remain a cause of pain.
(c)      Severity and duration of pain:
He was in severe pain for a short period of time.  He was required to take pain medication for 4 – 6 months.  Four and a half years after the accident he continues to suffer pain.
(d)      Disability:
The plaintiff was totally disabled for some six months, and continues to have some measure of disability.
(e)      Emotional suffering:
The plaintiff’s mother testified that the plaintiff was isolated and less confident following the first collision.  He did not seek counselling for this.
(f)       Loss and impairment of life:
Mr. Gravelle’s life was interrupted and altered by the first collision.  He missed part of Grade 10.  His mobility was significantly restricted during the summer.  He has permanent injuries and has some impairment of his ability to perform physical labour and enjoy his former physical pursuits.
(g)      Impairment of family, marital and social relationships:
Mr. Gravelle does not enjoy spending a lot of time with friends.  He was somewhat like this before the accident as well.
(h)      Impairment of physical and mental abilities:
He has a permanent impairment of his physical capabilities.  There is no impairment of his mental abilities.
(i)       Loss of Lifestyle:
Mr. Gravelle was unable to engage in snowboarding, an important part of his life, for some time.  He has been able to return to it, but pain prevents him from snowboarding in the same manner as before.
(j)       Stoicism:
Mr. Gravelle is somewhat stoic in his presentation.  The defendant agrees that the plaintiff should not be penalized for this…
53]         Having considered the plaintiff’s injuries and the factors listed above, in light of the case law, I assess non-pecuniary damages at $85,000.

$200,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment For Multiple, Disabling Orthopaedic Injuries

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for multiple, complex, orthopaedic injuries caused by a motor vehicle collision.
In last week’s case (Tompkins v. Bruce) the Plaintiff was injured in a serious 2006 collision which was caused when the Defendant, who had been drinking and was driving while over the legal limit, crossed the centre line and collided with the Plaintiff’s vehicle.  The Defendant was found fully at fault for the crash.
The Plaintiff suffered multiple injuries including rib fractures with a collapsed lung, a left hip fracture, a fractured femur and a fractured patella.  These injuries required surgical intervention.  The Plaintiff had a total hip replacement and likely needed a total knee replacement in the future.

The Plaintiff was a plumber and gas fitter and was rendered totally, permanently disabled from his own occupation.  He was left with a minimal residual earning capacity.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $200,000 Mr. Justice Curtis provided the following reasons:

[47] Wayne Tompkins was 50 years old, living in Pemberton and happily employed as a tradesman when the June 3, 2006 collision occurred.  As a result of the injuries suffered by Mr. Tompkins which were caused by the negligent and criminally irresponsible driving of Tawnya Ley Bruce, Mr. Tompkins’ life has been permanently and very significantly altered.

[48] He has lost his ability to work in his trade at employment he enjoyed.  He has lost a great deal of his mobility and cannot enjoy activities such as skiing, hiking, snowmobiling, slow pitch, tennis and similar activities as he once did.  He cannot stand or sit for long periods of time.  His mood is depressed and his anger harms his relationship with other people ? particularly in the case of Nancy Larkin, his romantic partner after the accident who left him largely because of his anger and irritability.  In addition, Mr. Tompkins now faces the prospect of further surgeries, such as two knee replacements, another hip replacement, the prospect that the condition of his knees and hip may get worse ? and that each surgery comes with a risk of loss of function, dangerous embolisms, scar tissue, long recovery periods and possible poor results.

[49] On the other hand, Mr. Tompkins is an intelligent man whose depression and anger can quite likely be treated and improved.  He now has his own home in Chilliwack where he lives with his dog close to his sons and grandson.  He is capable of driving his car, at least as far as Chilliwack to Whistler.  There is a good chance that continued physical training will maintain his strength and may well improve his mobility and flexibility ? he has been capable of walking without a cane in the past, and even of lifting Nancy Larkin who weighs 115 pounds from her wheelchair into a car and it is not unlikely that his condition may again reach that level.  He did own and operate a boat after the accident and could again, and fishing is still possible.  While his trade work as he once did it is no longer open to him, there is the possibility he may find rewarding employment in some other field…

[53] Mr. Tompkins has been particularly unfortunate in having three major joints ? both knees and his left hip damaged in the collision.  Those injuries are permanent and the condition of those joints likely to get worse.  Considering that and his altered mood and other injuries, I find the sum of $200,000 a fair and reasonable amount for non pecuniary damages.

$135,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages Awarded for Multiple Orthopaedic Injuries


(Illustrations provided courtesy of Artery Studios Ltd.)
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vernon Registry, awarding a Plaintiff just over $426,000 in total compensation for injuries and losses as a result of a 2007 motor vehicle collision.
Fault for the collision was hotly contested in today’s case (Hildebrand v. Musseau) .   The Defendant was operating a pick-up truck.   The Plaintiff was operating a dirt bike.  The vehicles approached each other from opposite directions.  Both motorists gave evidence that the other was on the wrong side of the road as they approached.  Ultimately the Court concluded that the Defendant was in the Plaintiff’s lane of travel as the vehicles approached each other.  The Plaintiff took evasive measures but was unsuccessful and was struck by the Defendant’s truck.   The Defendant was found 90% at fault for the crash.
The Plaintiff suffered serious injuries including a fractured right ankle and right wrist.  Both of these required surgery.  The Plaintiff also fractured his left femur which required splinting along with various soft tissue injuries.  Some of the injuries, particularly the injury to the knee and ankle, were expected to pose long term problems for the Plaintiff.  In awarding $135,000 for the Plaintiff’ non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) Madam Justice Hyslop provided the following reasons:

[216]     The plaintiff is a young man who suffered three different broken bones in his body. He lost eight and a half months of work convalescing. He had surgery to repair his broken bones and eventually had further surgery in which to remove plates and screws. He was initially confined to a wheelchair, then walked with crutches and eventually a cane. Many of his recreational activities were curtailed, some of which have been curtailed permanently, particularly if they relate to high impact-type activities. He has lost some range of motion in his right ankle which is unlikely to improve. The prognosis for osteoarthritis in the right ankle in the long-term is moderate. His injuries have prevented him in part from pursuing some renovations he wished to do in his home. The plaintiff’s injuries, particularly his right ankle and right knee, affect his ability to carry heavy loads, climb stairs and ladders, squat or kneel for extended periods of time.

[217]     The plaintiff, at the time of the accident, was aged 21 and had recently been certified as a journeyman auto body repair technician, a trade to which he appears to be well-suited.

[218]     He has a permanent disability as it relates to his ankle which prevents him from pursuing activities that he pursued prior to the accident and he may have wished to pursue in the future.

[219]     I assess non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $135,000.00.

Pain and Suffering for Plaintiffs With Pre Existing Injuries

How do courts value pain and suffering (non pecuniary damages) when a person with a severe pre-existing injury is injured in a subsequent event?  Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, (Monych v. Beacon Community Services Society) dealing with this issue.
In today’s case the Plaintiff was initially injured in a severe motor vehicle collision in 1992.  As a result of this he was rendered a quadriplegic.  Despite this he was able to lead ‘a relatively active life until November 2006.  He regularly left his home in his manual wheelchair and in his car for exercise, hobbies, entertainment and to visit friends and family.  Prior to the November 2006 accident, Mr. Monych could use a manual wheelchair, drive a car, dress himself, bend at the waist and pick up objects, repair his vehicles and regularly engage in sexual activity with his girlfriend.  Since the November 2006 accident Mr. Monych has been unable to do most of these things. ‘
In 2006, while in the care of the Defendant, the Plaintiff was injured while being transferred from his wheelchair.  The Plaingiff fell during this tranfer.  As a result of this fall the Plaintiff broke both his legs.  Madam Justice Gerow found that the Defendants were responsible for negligently assisting in the transfer of the Plaintiff.  
The Plaintiff’s injuries and their consequences were summarized as follows:
[41]            After reviewing the evidence, I am satisfied that as a result of the fall Mr. Monych suffered fractures to both his legs.  The evidence is that the fractures have not healed and the prognosis is that it is unlikely they will.  No surgical intervention is anticipated or recommended…
[47]            As a result of the leg fractures Mr. Monych’s legs were splinted, causing him a severe restriction of his ability to move around.  While his legs were splinted, he was bedridden and he developed the ischial ulcers.  As stated earlier, Dr. Clinton-Baker’s opinion is that the long hospital stay was a result of the bilateral leg fractures and the ischial ulcers that developed for the first time while in hospital.  I accept Dr. Clinton-Baker’s opinion that the ischial ulcers developed during the long hospital stay that was necessary because of the bilateral leg fractures…
[52]            After considering all of the evidence, I have concluded that but for the accident the injuries causing Mr. Monych’s long hospital stay have resulted in a deterioration of Mr. Monych’s condition to the point where he is restricted to his bed and his electric wheelchair.  If the accident had not occurred Mr. Monych would not have suffered the increased restrictions and limitations on his activities
In valuing the Plaintiff’s losses for general damages Madam Justice Gerow noted a very important principle when determining the value of pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life namely that “to rob a disabled person of what little she has left is a monstrous injury, for that little she has is, for her, the whole of her life.”
In awarding $120,000 for the Plaintiff’s general damages the court engaged in the following analysis:

[61]            The evidence from Mr. Monych, the lay witnesses and his caregivers is that Mr. Monych can no longer use a manual wheelchair, do self-assisted transfers to the toilet or shower, do independent transfers, bend at the waist to pick something up, change his own catheter bag, dress himself or drive an automobile.  He has not been able to have a shower or use a toilet since the accident.  As well, he can no longer take part in many of the extracurricular activities he used to, including visiting friends, going to the park with his girlfriend and working on automobiles.  Prior to the accident of November 4, 2006, he was able to do all those things.

[62]            As well, the evidence establishes that Mr. Monych’s personal life has been impacted.  Prior to the accident, he had an intimate relationship with his girlfriend and that has not resumed since his return home from the hospital.  Although Mr. Monych says he would like to resume a sexual relationship, the movement of the bones in his legs deters his girlfriend. 

[63]            Mr. Monych and the defendants have provided me with a number of cases to assist in determining the appropriate award for pain and suffering.  Mr. Monych submits that an award for general damages of $160,000 is appropriate, and that the range is $70,000 to $160,000.  The defendants submit that their authorities support an award for general damages in the range of $30,000.  I have considered the authorities presented by the parties.  As in most cases, there are aspects of the decisions which are helpful, but they also have features which distinguish them from this case. 

[64]            The defendants rely on Ranta v. Vancouver Taxi Ltd. (9 July 1990), Vancouver B882210 (S.C.), as support for the argument that the appropriate amount for general damages is $30,000.  In that case, the plaintiff, who was a quadriplegic, sustained a broken leg due to the negligence of a taxi driver.  In my view, the case has little application to the case at bar.  Harvey J. found that the plaintiff had failed to establish that the defendants’ negligence caused his present and continuing disability.  The injuries that were attributable to the accident were much less severe than the injuries Mr. Monych has suffered and had no long lasting impact.

[65]            I agree with the comments in Boren v. Vancouver Resource Society for the Physically Disabled, 2002 BCSC 1134 at para. 60:

Counsel for the defendant submits the award for non-pecuniary damages should be limited to a consideration of the physical injury sustained October 11.  I disagree.  Rather, the circumstances here raise issues similar to those in Bracey (Public Trustee of) v. Jahnke, [1995] B.C.J. No. 1850 (S.C.), varied on other grounds (1997), 34 B.C.L.R. (3d) 191 (C.A.), in which Oliver J. observed at para. 27 that:

To rob a disabled person of what little she has left is a monstrous injury, for that little she has is, for her, the whole of her life.

[66]            I am satisfied that Mr. Monych has suffered pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life as a result of the November 4, 2006 accident.  As stated above, the evidence establishes that as a result of the accident, Mr. Monych suffers ongoing disabilities that have caused a severe restriction to his independence and ability to pursue the activities he was involved in prior to the accident.  He has lost the independence of being able to transfer himself, his ability to exercise and go out independently in his manual wheelchair, his ability to drive vehicles, his sex life and much of his social life.

[67]            Having considered the authorities and the evidence concerning the effect of the injuries on Mr. Monych, and allowing for the probability that his activities would have become more restricted, and his independence more compromised over time due to his ongoing medical conditions, I am of the view that the appropriate award for non pecuniary damages is $120,000.

 

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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.

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