Tag: soft tissue injury claims

Pain and Suffering Awards for Year Long Soft Tissue Injuries Discussed

Reasons for judgement were released today addressing the value of non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) for 2 plaintiffs who suffered soft tissue injuries in a 2006 BC car crash.  I summarize the Court’s key findings in my continued effort to grow this public data base of damage awards in BC injury claims
In today’s case (Morrison v. Peng) the Plaintiffs (husband and wife) were rear-ended by a vehicle driven by the Defendant.  Fault was admitted leaving the Court to value the Plaintiffs’ injury claims.  Both suffered soft tissue injuries which lasted approximately one year.  In assessing the Plaintiffs non-pecuniary damages at $9,000 and $18,000 respectively Mr. Justice Masuhara summarized the injuries as follows:
[23] Having considered the evidence, I am of the view that Mr. Morrison suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck and back which can be characterized as mild, and that his symptoms resolved within a year.  Given my assessment of Mr. Morrison and the facts, my view is that he was able to do more than what he stated…
[26] Recognizing that the aforementioned cases are for guidance and that each case is to be determined on its own unique circumstances, I find a fair and reasonable non-pecuniary award to be $9,000.
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[42] Ms. Jabs’ condition is somewhat complicated by the several conditions that she has identified in the report.  Based on the foregoing medical opinion, I find that that she suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck, upper and lower back and that the symptoms she experienced resulting from the accident had a duration somewhat beyond one year of the accident.  Her chiropractic and massage treatments end at this point for about one year.  I would characterize her injuries as mild to moderate in severity. ..
[46] Recognizing that the aforementioned cases are for guidance and that each case is to be determined on its own unique circumstances, I find a fair and reasonable non-pecuniary award to be $18,000.
Feel free to visit the soft-tissue injury archives of this site to review other BC cases addressing non-pecuniary damages for soft tissue injuries.

ICBC Pain and Suffering Round-Up

With the Canucks losing game 6 and the series to the Blackhawks I figured its a fitting time to write about Pain and Suffering Claims in BC.
In the first case, Chan v. Kao, the Plaintiff suffered a left shoulder injury as a result of a 2006 motor vehicle collision.   Mr. Justice Verhoeven had credibility concerns with respect to some aspects of the Plaintiff’s testimony.  Despite this he concluded that “I have no difficulty in finding that Mr. Chan did in fact injure his left shoulder in the motor vehicle accident“.
In assessing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary loss (damages for pain and suffering) at $22,000 the court summarized his injuries and prognosis as follows:
[65]            I accept that Mr. Chan has continued to have shoulder problems and pain since the accident.  The extent to which this has affected his work is impossible to gauge, in view of the unreliability of his evidence.  It seems likely that Mr. Chan has worked at various times and places since the accident, but has chosen not to testify about that work…

72]            In summary, I accept that the plaintiff’s left shoulder was injured in the motor vehicle accident, and that he continues to suffer, to some extent, from shoulder difficulties initially caused by the accident.  The evidence as to the extent to which the ongoing shoulder problem causes the plaintiff ongoing difficulty and disability with respect to his ability to work is subject to considerable doubt, due to the unreliability of the plaintiff’s evidence in this respect, and the lack of corroborating evidence.

[73]            While Dr. Lui’s prognosis of permanent disability is overly pessimistic, both orthopaedic surgeons are of the view that there are ongoing problems in the shoulder which require treatment.  In my view, treatment options have not been adequately explored.

In addition to referencing several cases dealing with pain and suffering values in BC for shoulder injuries this claim is worth reviewing to see how Mr. Justice Verhoeven dealt with his concerns regarding the credibility of certain aspects of the Plaintiff’s evidence.

The second ICBC Pain and Suffering Claim released today (Mattu v. Fust) involved a 2004 collision.  The Plaintiff was 39 years old at the time.  His vehicle was rear-ended with enough force to push it into the vehicle ahead of him.

The Plaintiff suffered various soft tissue injuries leading to chronic pain and headaches.  The court found that the effects of these would likely be permanent.  Madam Justice Brown summarized the medical evidence of the Plaintiff’s treating family physician as follows:

 

[31]            Dr. Parhar has been Mr. Mattu’s family physician since April 2004. He provided three reports to the court. In his first report of November 1, 2004, he diagnosed Mr. Mattu with paracervical, parathoracic and paralumbar muscle strain, left shoulder strain and muscle tension headaches.  He had received ice, heat, rest, exercises, massage therapy, kinesiology, acupuncture, herbal medicine and medications: anti-inflamatories, analgesics and muscle relaxants.  With respect to prognosis and recommendations, Dr. Parhar was impressed by Mr. Mattu’s motivation to recover and try different treatments, but was concerned that he may be trying too many modalities.  He recommended limiting treatment to massage and physiotherapy and increasing active modalities such as swimming and exercises.  He anticipated further treatment and improvement.

[32]            In his report of May 26, 2006, Dr. Parhar found that Mr. Mattu continued to have decreased range of motion in the cervical spine, tenderness in the paracervical and paralumbar regions.  He found muscle spasm in the paracervical and paralumbar regions.  His diagnosis remained the same.  His prognosis for full recovery had worsened.  Mr. Mattu had tried a variety of treatments with minimal success.  Dr. Parhar’s recommendations were unchanged, but he thought that Mr. Mattu’s condition had plateaued.

[33]            In his final report of September 16, 2008, Dr. Parhar considered the MRIs of Mr. Mattu’s spine taken September 19, 2006, and July 28, 2008, and concluded that Mr. Mattu’s injuries included cervical and thoracic disc herniations.  He said: “… it is unclear if the cervical and thoracic disc herniations were caused by the motor vehicle accident … but certainly, this motor vehicle accident made these spinal lesions symptomatic.”  He commented on Mr. Mattu’s efforts to recover: “… pursued many more modalities of treatment than most patients would have. Despite all of these modalities his pain symptoms persist.”  He concluded that the prognosis for a full recovery was poor, that Mr. Mattu’s condition had plateaued and further improvement in his functioning or symptomatology was unlikely  

In awarding $60,000 for the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary loss injuries and their effect on the Plaintiff’s life the court accepted the family physicians evidence and stated as follows  

[60]            I found the evidence of Dr. Parhar to be very helpful.  Dr. Parhar has seen Mr. Mattu regularly since shortly after the accident.  I accept his opinion that Mr. Mattu suffered paracervical, parathoracic and paralumbar muscle strain, left shoulder strain and muscle tension headaches from the accident; that his condition has plateaued; and that it is unlikely there will be further improvement.  I also accept the opinions of Drs. Parhar, Hershler and Hunt that the accident likely caused the disc herniations in Mr. Mattu’s back to become symptomatic.  Mr. Mattu will continue to need chiropractic treatment from time to time and would benefit from a personal trainer.

[61]            I have considered the cases which counsel have provided to me.  In my view, an appropriate award for non-pecuniary loss is $60,000.

$75,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Chronic Neck/Back Pain and Headaches

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court awarding a Plaintiff just over $190,000 in damages as a result of 3 motor vehicle collisions.
The Plaintiff was 23 years old at the time of trial.  He was injured in 3 collisions, the first of which occured when he was only 10 years old.
The Plaintiff was not at fault for any of the collisions and the week long trial focussed on the issue of damages (that is, the value of the Plaintiff’s ICBC claims).
The medical evidence presented established that the plaintiff suffered from neck pain, upper back pain and headaches and that these symptoms have lasted for more than 10 years.  The court accepted that the Plaintiff’s injuries still have room for ‘considerable improvement with continued focussed and supervised exercise.’ However the court also found that the synptoms would probably never completely resolve.
Damages were awarded as follows:

Non-pecuniary damages                                            $ 75,000

Loss of Earning Capacity                                           $100,000

Cost of Future Care                                                    $  12,650

Special Damages                                                       $    3,570

Past Income Loss                                                       $       698

ICBC claims involving soft tissue injuries and headaches are often based laregely on subjective findings.  That is, often times in these cases one cannot point to an X-ray, MRI or other diagnosistic study that will prove or dis-prove the injury.  Thus the credibility of the claimiant is a vital factor in the success/failure of many of these types of cases.
Here, Mr. Justice Smith found that the Plaintiff was credible and that the injuries were genuine.  Specifically he noted that: 
[19]            The opinions of both Dr. McGraw and Dr. Watt are based primarily on the plaintiff’s description of his subjective symptoms.  There have been few objective physical findings.  However, I found the plaintiff to be a forthright, intelligent, highly motivated young man and I accept his evidence that he has suffered ongoing, although not disabling, pain for 13 years as a result of the first accident, with increased pain and discomfort as a result of the second accident that lasted three years.  It is to the plaintiff’s credit that he has been willing to accept that pain and carry on with most activities.
 

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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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