$65,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Partly Disabling Mechanical Neck and Back Pain
Update September 28, 2018 – Today the BC Court of Appeal published reasons re-assessing the non-pecuniary award in the below case at $85,000.
Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster registry, assessing damages for partly disabling injuries sustained in a collision.
In today’s case (Riley v. Ritsco) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2011 collision. The Defendant was found fully liable. Following the collision the plaintiff suffered from chronic neck and back pain with associated symptoms and a poor prognosis for full recovery. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $65,000 Mr. Justice Bowden provided the following reasons:
 In summary, Dr. Adrian opined as follows:
1. The mechanical neck, mid and lower back pain experienced by the plaintiff are consistent with suffering an injury to the spinal tissue and are causally related to the motor vehicle accident.
2. The headaches experienced by the plaintiff are triggered by neck pain and related to his neck injury.
3. The plaintiff’s left shoulder pain symptoms are causally related to the accident.
4. The plaintiff’s left knee pain symptoms are causally related to the accident.
5. While the plaintiff experiences psychological and cognitive symptoms, Dr. Adrian deferred to specialists in psychiatry to comment on the nature of those symptoms.
6. As several years have passed since the accident, the prognosis for further recovery from the injuries suffered in the accident into the future is poor.
7. The plaintiff will probably continue to experience difficulty performing activities that place physical forces onto his neck, back, left shoulder and left knee. He will probably continue to experience difficulty performing employment, recreational and household activities involving prolonged sitting, standing or walking, awkward spinal positioning, heavy or repetitive lifting, stooping, repetitive neck motion, repetitive reaching, climbing or jarring activities.
8. The plaintiff’s physical limitations are unlikely to improve into the future and he is permanently partially disabled due to injuries suffered in the accident.
 The plaintiff has undergone a variety of treatments for his injuries following the accident including 134 physiotherapy treatments, 64 massages, acupuncture and chiropractic treatments. This has given him some relief but the pain symptoms referred to by Dr. Adrian continue.
 I accept Dr. Adrian’s description of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the collision. It appears that the plaintiff has endured pain of different levels and at different times during the years following the accident. He was totally disabled from work for about 14 months and he will likely continue to experience some pain in the areas of his body where he was injured for the remainder of his life. He is described by Dr. Adrian as suffering a permanent partial disability as a result of the accident. His injuries have negatively affected his ability to work as a millwright as well as a number of his recreational activities…
 While Dr. Adrian opines that the plaintiff would find certain functions at work to be difficult he did not say that the plaintiff was unemployable. There is also insufficient evidence, and none from an expert, to establish that the plaintiff suffered psychological damage from the accident. Indeed, Dr. Adrian defers to specialists such as a psychiatrist regarding the nature of the plaintiff’s psychological state.
 Unlike Mr. Mandra, the plaintiff in the case at bar did not present evidence from an occupational therapist or a psychiatrist.
 Considering the factors referred to in Stapley v. Hejslet and the particular circumstances of the plaintiff I have concluded that an award of $65,000 is appropriate for non-pecuniary damages.