Tag: Grade 2 Whiplash Associated Disorders

$45,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For 4 Year Soft Tissue Injury With Good Prognosis

Adding to this site’s archived soft tissue injury caselaw assessments, reasons for judgement were released recently by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a chronic soft tissue injury with an ultimately good prognosis.
In the recent case (Chingcuangco v. Herback) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2008 collision for which she was not at fault.  She suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck and back which continued to pose problems at the time of trial.  Despite their long duration the prognosis for full symptom recovery was good with the Court finding they would resolve within a further 5 years.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $45,000 Mr. Justice Weatherill provided the following reasons:
[197]     The plaintiff felt some immediate pain in her chest and right toe after the accident.  She had no loss of consciousness.  X-rays taken at the hospital shortly after the accident were negative.  As the days and weeks progressed, she developed debilitating pain in her neck and lower back, with resulting headaches.  She had bruising on her chest and abdomen.  She was unable to go to work at CRA for two weeks.
[198]     The bruises and the pain she suffered in her chest and right toe pain resolved completely within six weeks.  Although she thought her lower back pain had resolved by the end of 2009, she has since experienced severe flare-ups several times since then.
[199]     The plaintiff has tried various modalities of treatment.  They have provided temporary but not permanent relief.  The plaintiff continues to experience persistent pain and muscle spasms.  She will continue to have episodic flare-ups of pain in her lower back and cervical spine with associated headaches.  I am satisfied that such episodes have been and will continue to be the result of the injuries she suffered during the September 15, 2008 accident…
[201]     I find that the plaintiff suffered a Grade II whiplash injury as a result of the September 15, 2008 accident.  She also suffered contusion injuries to her chest and lower abdomen, chest wall strain and a chipped tooth.  Over four years have passed since the accident and she still suffers from intermittent neck and lower back pain and tension headaches as a result of the accident.
[202]     I find that it is reasonable to expect the plaintiff will be fully recovered within five years.  In part, I make this finding on the basis that the plaintiff is an achiever.  Dr. Mergens gave evidence that she might still suffer some muscle tension headaches for an indefinite period.  He did say these symptoms may dissipate with time and conditioning.  However, there is no reasonable prospect of permanent impact upon her capabilities.
[203]     After considering all of the evidence, the submissions of counsel and the case authorities, I find that an appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages in this case is $45,000.

Fibromyalgia and PTSD Claims Rejected, $40,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Lingering Soft Tissue Injuries

Adding to this site’s BC soft tissue injury caselaw database, reasons for judgement were released recently by the BC Supreme Court, Kamloops Registry, assessing damages for a lingering Grade II soft tissue injury.
In the recent case (Nokleby v. Fiddick) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2007 rear-end collision.  Fault was admitted by the rear motorist.  The Plaintiff suffered from soft tissue injuries to his neck and shoulder and these continued to be symptomatic at the time of trial and were expected to linger into the future.  The Plaintiff also advanced allegations that the collision caused fibromyalgia and PTSD although this evidence was not accepted.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages for the lingering soft tissue injuries at $40,000 Madam Justice Hyslop provided the following reasons:
[83]        I find that the plaintiff, as a result of the accident, injured his neck which caused headaches and injured his left shoulder. I find that as a result of the shoulder injury the plaintiff can continue with his employment activities and all his activities and responsibilities both at home and on the farm. I find that in performing some of his farm activities he may experience some discomfort…
[85]        I find also the plaintiff’s shoulder injury interferes with him being able to split wood to heat his house. The plaintiff claims that as a result of his injuries, in particular his shoulder causes him to fall more. However, Dr. Laidlow found no medical explanation for this…
[90]        I award the plaintiff $40,000.00 in non-pecuniary damages. In doing so, I take into consideration the difficulties the plaintiff suffered in pursuing his farming activities.
 

$60,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Grade II Soft Tissue Injury

Adding to this site’s archived posts documenting BC soft tissue injury non-pecuniary assessments, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry, dealing with a chronic Grade II Whiplash Injury.
In this week’s case (Strazza v. Ryder) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 rear-end collision.  He suffered soft tissue damage to his neck and mid back.  His symptoms of pain, while “not debilitating” continued to the time of trial and caused him to reduce or modify his daily activities   His symptoms were expected to linger into the future.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $60,000 Madam Justice Adair provided the following reasons:
[67]         Mr. Strazza himself reports that he continues to experience pain.  It is not debilitating, and Mr. Strazza has not claimed that it is.  It has not prevented him from working or doing household chores or working on his car.  As Mr. Strazza describes it, he can basically do everything he did before the accident, but with pain.  Mr. Strazza describes his situation as one where he works and carries on despite his pain symptoms, which he does his best to alleviate by taking over-the-counter medications or by calling on someone to help.  As a result of his pain symptoms, Mr. Strazza has modified some of his activities, both leisure and work-related, since the accident.  Friends – Ms. Miller and Ms. Goalder – gave evidence of their observations in this respect, and their evidence supported Mr. Strazza’s.  The changes in Mr. Strazza are not drastic, but they are changes nevertheless…
[72]         More generally, I found Mr. Strazza to be forthright and a credible witness.  He spoke plainly and did not exaggerate.  He had no difficulty and no hesitation conceding points that were not necessarily in his favour, for example, that working for Madill was just not for him.  On cross-examination, Mr. Strazza was the opposite of defensive or argumentative, which allowed the cross-examination (by very experienced counsel) to proceed smoothly and efficiently.
[73]         I therefore find that, as a result of the accident, Mr. Strazza sustained soft tissue injuries to his cervical spine and his thoracic spine.  Specifically, and as set out in Dr. MacKean’s February 8, 2012 report, I find that Mr. Strazza sustained a grade II whiplash associated disorder in the cervical spine, which (as of trial) was resolving and a grade II whiplash associated disorder in his thoracic spine with residual pain and muscle spasm involving the left mid to lower thoracic region.  Based on Mr. Strazza’s evidence (supported by the evidence from Ms. Miller and Ms. Goalder), he continues to experience some pain as a result of his injuries.  I therefore find, based on this evidence and the opinion evidence from Dr. MacKean, that Mr. Strazza’s pain symptoms will probably not resolve completely, although they can be improved with a regular exercise program and pain relief can be obtained through occasional use of over-the-counter medication…
[81]         Taking into account Mr. Strazza’s age, the effect of Mr. Strazza’s injuries on his day-to-day activities and on his lifestyle in general, including on his career goals, Dr. MacKean’s prognosis that the pain is unlikely to resolve completely, and the cases that have been cited to me, I assess Mr. Strazza’s non-pecuniary damages at $60,000.

How Can the Same Injury Have Different Values in an ICBC Claim?


As I’ve previously written, the exact same injuries can be valued differently by a Court when ICBC Claims go to trial.  When a judge or jury awards money for non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) the award isn’t made by following a chart or a mathematical calculation, instead the award is made by ‘assessing‘ damages.
An assessment is just as flexible as it sounds.  There is no right award for pain and suffering.  While past cases (what lawyers call precedents) are instructive, they only serve to provide a ‘range‘ of acceptable awards.  So long as a trial award falls within the acceptable range of damages it will not be interefered with if challenged on appeal.
In practice this means that two people with similar injuries can be awarded different amounts for their claims and both outcomes can be correct in law.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry, discussing the ranges of damages in BC personal injury lawsuits.
In today’s case (Anderson v. Cejka) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 rear-end crash in Parksville, BC.  Fault for the crash was admitted.  The Court was asked to value the Plaintiff’s claim for pain and suffering.
Mr. Justice Halfyard found that the Plaintiff suffered from a Grade 2 Whiplash Disorder which took a long time to recover.  The Plaintiff sought an award between $40,000 – $50,000, ICBC submitted that an award of $15,000 – $25,000 was more appropriate.  The Court went on to award the Plaintiff $20,000 for his non-pecuniary damages and in doing so the Mr. Justice Halfyard made the following comments about ranges of damages:

[84]         In my opinion, previously-decided cases, even where there are some similarities with the case at bar, can only assist in establishing a general range of damages which may apply to a particular case. This is because no two plaintiffs will ever be the same in age, previous state of strength and health, occupation and other activities. Moreover, the injuries (or combination of injuries) sustained by one plaintiff will never be the same as those incurred by another, in kind or severity. Additionally, the reaction of any two persons to the pain of a similar injury or to particular treatments will rarely if ever be the same. Other differentiating features may be the apparent length of the recovery period and, if the plaintiff has not recovered, the kind and extent of residual effects remaining from the injury at the time of trial, and whether any of the effects will be permanent.

[85]         I have reviewed the cases cited by counsel, in light of the facts which I have found. Due to significant differences, I see no useful purpose in discussing them. There is no legal formula which can be used to measure the amount of pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that a plaintiff has experienced as a result of an injury caused by the defendant. In my opinion, the range of damages for non-pecuniary loss in this case is the range suggested by Mr. Dreyer, namely, $15,000 to $25,000.

[86]         The pain suffered by the plaintiff was never serious. He himself consistently described its severity as being one or two on a scale of ten. Within a few months after the accident, the symptoms became intermittent. Eventually, they became few and far between. The plaintiff was never disabled by the pain, to any significant extent. I must be careful not to penalize the plaintiff for being stoical in the face of pain. But I do not find that this is the case here. I award $20,000 for this head of damages.

When trying to determine how much your personal injury claim is worth the best thing you can do is read as many cases as you can dealing with similar injuries so you can determine a realistic range for your injuries.

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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.

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