$75,000 Pain and Suffering Awarded for Frozen Shoulder, STI's and Headaches
In lengthy reasons for judgement released today by the BC Supreme Court (Peake v. Higo) Mr. Justicer Brown awarded a 52 year old Plaintiff approximately $170,000 in total damages as a result of a 2003 motor vehicle collision.
The Plaintiff had pre-existing pain in her neck and back and these were aggravated as a result of this collision. Additionally, the Plaintiff suffered a frozen left and right shoulder as a result of this collision.
In justifying a non-pecuniary damages award (pain and suffering) of $75,000 the court summarized the Plaintiff’s injuries as follows:
 Considering all the pertinent evidence before me, I find that the plaintiff suffered an aggravation of pre-existing neck and low back pain that she had been experiencing at the time of the accident, together with the imposition of some new soft tissue injuries in those areas. I find that when she was experiencing neck and back pain in the month or so preceding the accident, she was in a highly emotional psychological state that was magnifying her perception of pain at that time. To take her symptoms at this time as representative of her physical health would be inaccurate and unfair, given her medical history as a whole and the accepted evidence of witnesses who testified about her pre-accident functioning and activities. The plaintiff herself acknowledges that 90% would be a fair representation of her pre-accident health. The evidence of Dr. Regan, which I have accepted with some minor qualification, is clear that the 2003 accident cannot be burdened with all of Mrs. Peake’s on-going post accident neck and back symptoms and headaches.
 Mrs. Peake exhibited pre-accident degenerative changes in her cervical spine. Dr. Webb commented that Mrs. Peake’s degenerative cervical spine, exhibited by x-ray and MRI imaging, pre-disposes her to more intense symptoms and prolonged recovery. Just the same, she had already experienced symptoms in the neck (and low back) together with headaches pre-accident, with no recent physical trauma and only a heightened emotional state to partly explain the intensity of her symptoms at that time.
 Further, the effect of Mrs. Peake’s emotional state in May 2003 on her symptoms, and the fact that, as Dr. Webb comments, Mrs. Peake has suffered depressed mood, anxiety and frustration in relation to her symptoms since the accident, is a factor that I should take into account in assessing the extent to which her symptoms have been influenced by her emotional state post accident—and that this bodes positively for further future improvement as her emotional state continues to improve.
 Both Dr. Regan and Dr. Sovio’s opinions negate a direct relationship between Mrs. Peake’s lower back flare-ups and the accident. This is a mechanical condition and the plaintiff has not established that her ongoing back flare-ups, certainly past the summer of 2006, are attributable to the accident. At the same time, Mrs. Peake testified that her low back symptoms are different and more intense then those experienced pre-accident. I find that some small portion of Mrs. Peake’s ongoing lower back symptoms relate to the 2003 accident.
 There is little question that the 2003 accident caused Mrs. Peake’s left shoulder injury and frozen shoulder. I accept Mrs. Peake’s sworn testimony that she continues to experience mild periodic situational discomfort and some functional limitation in the use of her left shoulder.
 With respect to the more problematic question of the causation of Mrs. Peake’s right frozen shoulder, with recovery from that predicted to extend to some time in 2010, albeit in a less problematic way then was the case for the left shoulder, I find that the plaintiff has proven that her right shoulder injury and eventually frozen state was caused by the accident….
 Turning to Mrs. Peake’s neck symptoms and headaches, and Mr. Pankratz’ submission that “but for the subsequent traumatic events of 2006, this condition “would have” resolved completely,” Dr. Regan did not testify that the condition “would” resolve; but “should” resolve. I note that when he wrote his second report, he was aware of ongoing neck complaints and headaches; but made no skeptical comments about their having continued her he last saw Mrs. Peake. Mrs. Peake continues to experience neck pain and headaches that frequently cause her to awaken in the middle of the night with a “terrible headache” that can last for a few days – bearing in mind that Mrs. Peake has a history of pre-accident headaches. Further, Mrs. Peake confirms ongoing improvement; and indeed in the summer of 2006 experienced extended pain-free periods, as stated earlier. I bear in mind as well that she has suffered a right frozen shoulder, but that continues to improve and should resolve completely by 2010; and with improvement in that condition she should see further relief in her neck, noting that she saw considerable improvement when her left shoulder pain and limitation more or less resolved.
 The evidence does not support the gloomier aspects of Dr. Webb’s prognosis considering Dr. Regan’s expectations that Mrs. Peake’s neck pain and accompanying headaches, should eventually recover and Dr. Regan’s opinion that negates a continuing connection between her lower back symptoms and the accident. In my assessment of non-pecuniary damages, and considering Mrs. Peake’s pre-accident condition, I see the medical and other evidence going so far as to support a finding of a possibility that Mrs. Peake will in future continue to suffer some minor residual neck sequelae and headaches that are attachable to the accident, although the most likely outcome is complete recovery from those within two years, insofar as the effects of the 2003 accident are concerned.