Tag: patellofemoral injury

$40,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Patellofemoral Knee Pain

Adding to this site’s archived posts addressing damages for knee injuries, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for Patellofemoral pain.
In the recent case (Peragine v. Serena) the plaintiff was involved in a 2009 intersection collision.  The Defendant left a stop sign and proceeded into the Plaintiff’s lane of travel resulting in the collision. Although the Defendant disputed fault she was found fully liable for the crash.
The plaintiff suffered a knee injury which required surgery.  She remained symptomatic at the time of trial and was expected to have symptoms for some time into the future.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $40,000 Mr. Justice Weatherill provided the following reasons:

[70] Dr. Kokan concluded that Michelle’s pain in her left knee was and is caused by the medial synovial plica (which was removed during the surgery), patellofemoral pain syndrome and pes anserinus bursitis.  It is his opinion that the motor vehicle collision on March 13, 2009 caused the onset of her left knee pain, which irritated the medial synovial plica.  He acknowledges that there is controversy in the literature and within his profession regarding the function of the synovial plica and its contribution to symptoms.  Some orthopedic surgeons, including Dr. Kokan, are of the view that it can make one susceptible to pain.  Others are of the opinion that the plica has minimal, if any, impact on pain.  Dr. Kokan concluded that Michelle’s plica, which was in a vulnerable position, being suddenly impacted caused direct trauma and caused her to experience the pain she had reported.  Moreover, the blunt impact of the accident also transmitted forces to other structures within her knee, including the patellofemoral joint.

[71] Dr. Kokan also acknowledged that patellofemoral pain syndrome could be caused by a person being inactive and then suddenly becoming active.

[72] In Dr. Kokan’s opinion, it is likely that Michelle could continue to experience her pain symptoms for between two to three years.  He expects that she will continue to experience difficulties with kneeling, walking, standing and negotiating stairs.  He recommends that Michelle limit her sports to non-impact activities such as swimming or cycling…

[75] I accept Dr. Kokan’s description of Michelle’s symptoms as described in his report.  I also accept his opinion that the pain in her left knee was caused by a blunt impact during the March 13, 2009 collision and that it is possible for the injury to the knee to have occurred during the accident but the pain associated with that injury not to have manifested itself for three weeks to a month…

[118] All of the injuries Michelle suffered to her forehead, shoulder, neck and back were minor and completely resolved within a few weeks.  None have reoccurred, although she does have a small, residual but indiscreet scar on her forehead.

[119] However there is no question that, since the collision, Michelle has experienced and is continuing to experience intense and ongoing pain in her left knee.  She is unable to climb or descend stairs or even walk or stand for prolonged periods of time without significant pain and having to sit and rest her knee.  She is unable to participate in sporting activities which she has grown up doing and which are her passion…

[130] The plaintiff is 21 years of age.  She continues to have trouble walking and standing without pain.  She is in pain every day.  Despite the pain, she is living a normal and enjoyable life.  The prognosis for a full recovery is good.

[131] After reviewing the foregoing cases and taking my findings of fact in this case into account, I find that that an award of $40,000 for non-pecuniary damages is appropriate.

$60,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment For Right Knee Cartilage Injury

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a knee and back injury sustained in a collision.
In this week’s case (Buttar v. Brennan) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2008 collision.  He was employed as a framer.  He suffered from pre-existing back pain.  This condition was aggravated by the collision.  The Plaintiff also suffered a cartilage injury to his right knee causing patello femoral symptoms (knee pain).
These injuries, while not totally disabling, were expected to be ongoing and to compromise the Plaintiff in his vocation.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $60,000 Mr. Justice Abrioux provided the following reasons:
[34] I have found that the plaintiff was a hard-working individual.  I have also concluded he has made a greater recovery from his injuries than he may believe or say to be the case.  He is left, however, with an ongoing low back condition which affects his life from a functional perspective to a greater degree than was the case prior to the Accident.  He also has a minor yet permanent ongoing injury to his right knee which was entirely caused by the Accident…
[37] Taking into account the plaintiff’s original position and the measurable risk which I have found the plaintiff’s pre-Accident condition would have had on his life in any event, I award non-pecuniary damages of $60,000.

$40,000 Pain and Suffering for "Very Unique' Ankle Injury

Reasons for judgement were released today awarding a Plaintiff a total of$71,060.06 as a result of personal injuries which were caused by a 2004 BC car crash.
This was a left-turn intersection case involving a semi-truck and a mini-van. The semi truck turned left in front of the mini-van at an intersection causing a collision. The Plaintiff was a passenger in the mini-van. She ‘braced herself (for the collision) by holding the sides of the seat and placing her feet on the dash’.
Fault for the accident was admitted. The issue at trial was the extent of the injuries sustained and their value.
The court concluded that the Plaintiff suffered from soft tissue injuries to her neck back and jaw which ‘had all effectively cleared up within some 6-7 months after the accident‘.
The Plaintiff also suffered injuries to her knee and ankles which ‘progressed to the point where she could return to work in July, 2005‘. The exact nature of these injuries were ‘bilateral ankle bone contusions and patellofemoral discomfort‘. The court found that these injuries were chronic and that ‘she will have continuing pain from time-to-time (in her ankle) of more likely on a diminishing basis‘.
The court awarded $40,000 for non-pecuniary damages (pain and suffering).
This case focused largely on credibility. The court concluded that the plaintiff ‘has exaggerated her ongoing pain’. This case is worth reviewing for anyone advancing an ICBC injury claim as an example of how BC courts deal with the credibility (truthfulness) of a witness.
Here the court found that the Plaintiff was not truthful when describing the extent of her pain and that she misled the court when addressing past wage loss.
Specifically, the court found that:

[56] Following the adjournment of the trial to October, it became clear from the evidence led by the defence from West Jet’s representatives and employment records that the plaintiff’s position on picking up shifts was not true. In fact, the employment records in evidence confirm that the plaintiff began picking up more work than she was scheduled within a month of returning to regular hours of employment in July of 2005. From the evidence of the West Jet supervisor the plaintiff could routinely work 30 hours a week or less simply by working the hours that she was scheduled but it is clear from the employment records she chose to work more than 40 hours per week by picking up shifts from fellow agents following her return to work in July 2005 and commencing in August 2005.

[57] From a review of her employment records relating to her employment before the accident it became crystal clear that since she began working at West Jet Ms. Polson has routinely lobbied her fellow agents for more work as evidenced from commentary in work reviews directed to her in 2005 and 2006.

[58] Primarily relative to these inconsistencies relating to her employment following the accident, I have, regretfully, come to the conclusion that the plaintiff, in her direct evidence, led the court to believe that she was unable to work additional hours that she had worked prior to the accident and wanted fewer hours of employment because of the pain working additional hours caused her when, in fact, she volunteered for and obtained additional hours notwithstanding the additional pain she asserts.

[59] Likewise, with respect to the medical evidence and her contention that the pain levels at the time of trial were in the ranges she described, this level of pain is inconsistent with her attendances at her treating physician’s office. As indicated previously, following her return to work in July 2005 I can count, from the clinical records, only one occasion prior to her attendance for a medical/legal report to be provided by Dr. Gorman some 13 months after returning to work. While there are complaints of depression, as already indicated, there is ample clinical notations to indicate pre-existing problems with depression and fatigue which cannot be causally connected to this motor vehicle accident without more.

[60] Although the plaintiff testified that she routinely suffers from pain in her neck at a 7 out of 10 pain level when at work, and frequently rubs her neck as a result, only one witness testified that she had seen the plaintiff sometimes stretching her neck, perhaps once a week, and only occasionally sitting on an exercise ball provided by her employer. With respect to rolling her ankle at work and the resulting limp thereby occasioned, Ms. Polson described herself rolling her ankle frequently at work and limping frequently at work for approximately 3 or 4 times a day, but no witness testified to having seen Ms. Polson limping or rubbing her ankle. While her co-worker Amanda Fraser-Doyle testified that Ms. Polson had slowed down since the accident, this would be inconsistent with the actual hours worked and voluntarily picked up by Ms. Polson after returning to work.

[61] One other matter of evidence also needs to be dealt with. Tricia Spencer, the administrative assistant for West Jet at the Prince George operations, testified to having observed the plaintiff at the Christmas party in December 2006 where she described the plaintiff as “enjoying herself on the dance floor for a relatively substantial time and was unable to notice any pain behaviour while she was dancing”. While Ms. Spencer agreed that she did not have much casual conversation with the plaintiff at this time, she maintained her observations of the plaintiff’s abilities on the dance floor.

Credibility of a Plaintiff is vital in all ICBC injury claims, particularly those where the injuries cannot be verified through objective measures such as X-rays or MRI findings. In such cases courts are very careful in assessing a Plaintiff’s credibility prior to awarding damages for injuries. Cases such as this one are worth reviewing if you are proceeding to trial in an ICBC injury claim to see what kinds of factors the court can consider when weighing a person’s credibility.

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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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