$50,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for "Sustained and Prolonged" Exacerbation of Fibromyalgia
Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing an assessment of damages for an aggravation of pre-existing injuries.
In today’s case (Iwanik v. Hayes) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2008 intersection collision. She was 61 years old at the time. Fault for the crash was admitted by the opposing motorist. The trial focused on the quantum of damages (value of the claim).
Prior to the collision the Plaintiff had various health concerns including fibromyalgia. The collision caused, among other injuries, a “sustained and prolonged” exacerbation of her pre-existing condition. In valuing the non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $50,000 Madam Justice Gray provided the following reasons:
 As a result of the accident, Ms. Iwanik suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck, thorax and lumbar spine, causing a prolonged and sustained exacerbation of her fibromyalgia, and causing intermittent headaches. If the accident had not occurred, her fibromyalgia would have flared up periodically, but not enough to have restricted her from her from work or her other activities.
 As a result of the accident, Ms. Iwanik also suffered an injury to her left knee, which caused patellofemoral pain syndrome. It may have caused other problems in her knee, but the evidence at trial did not establish anything further. Although there is no record of Ms. Iwanik reporting the knee pain to treatment providers until August, 2008, I accept her evidence that she was initially more focussed on her other pain, and thought that the knee pain would resolve.
 I accept Dr. Bridger’s opinion that Ms. Iwanik also suffered a probable minor compression fracture of her T12 vertebra, and that she suffered a minor head injury with a probable minor concussion which has resolved. However, both of those injuries resolved so quickly that they do not affect the assessment of damages in this case.
 As a result of the injuries she suffered in the accident, Ms. Iwanik is no longer able to work at a physically demanding job, and is not capable of working in a 7-Eleven store. Fortunately, Ms. Iwanik found work at a Husky gas station which can accommodate her abilities. However, the job is not as well-paid as her work as a manager at 7-Eleven, and does not offer opportunities for advancement.
 As a result of the injuries she suffered in the accident, Ms. Iwanik is no longer able to engage in hour-long walks, or to carry heavy items such as laundry and groceries, or to garden for more than 20 minutes at a time in an elevated garden bed. She is no longer able to contribute to her family and community to the extent she previously did….
 In all the circumstances, an appropriate award is $50,000.