$155,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages Agreement for Serious Knee Injury
Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing compensation for a serious knee injury following a motor vehicle collision.
In last week’s case (Stevanovic v. Petrovic) the Plaintiff was struck by a vehicle driven by the Defendant. The Plaintiff was standing in the middle of a residential road when the Defendant approached in his vehicle. The Plaintiff was friends with the Defendant and was expecting the Defendant to pick him up. The Defendant attempted to show off and drive his vehicle dangerously close to the Plaintiff. He miscalculated and struck the Plaintiff causing injury. The Defendant denied fault but Mr. Justice Sigurdson found him entirely liable for the collision.
The parties were able to agree on several heads of damages including the claim for non-pecuniary loss (pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life). The balance of the trial focused on the Plaintiff’s damages for cost of future care and diminished earning capacity.
The parties settled the value of the pain and suffering claim at $155,000. Since the issue was privately settled this case is not a true ‘precedent‘. Despite this I thought this case would be worth summarizing given the relatively few precedents dealing with unique and complex knee injuries. The Court made the following findings with respect to the severity and extent of the Plaintiff’s physical injury:
 The purpose of the review of the injuries that the plaintiff suffered is not to revisit the issue of non-pecuniary damages, which was agreed, but for the purpose of the assessment of his loss of earning capacity and cost of future care.
 The injuries suffered by the plaintiff were summarized by Dr. Anton, a physiatrist, in his medical report of August 21, 2008:
1. multiple injuries to the right knee including
(a) a patellar dislocation with a residual osteocondral defect in the articular (joint) surface of the patella;
(b) an impacted fracture of the lateral femoral condyle;
(c) evulsion of the anterior cruciatr ligament from the tibial spine;
(d) a lateral tibial-plateau fracture, and
(e) a bucket handle tear in the anterior portion of the lateral meniscus;
2. a closed head injury including a laceration, nasal fracture, and probable mild traumatic brain injury;
3. a fracture of the proximal fibula of the right leg;
4. an injury to the left shoulder involving the supraspinatis tendon of the rotator cuff and anterosuperior glenoid labrum; and
5. multiple soft tissue injuries including a probable soft tissue injury to the cervical spine.
 The plaintiff’s most serious physical injury was the damage to his right knee, which required surgery on four occasions by Dr. Pierre Guy, an orthopaedic surgeon. The plaintiff also required shoulder surgery in 2008 by Dr. Gilbert, which surgery was successfully completed. In more recent times, the plaintiff has developed and has complained of hip pain.
 The knee injury was described by the doctors as serious and complex, and is significant for the loss of earning capacity claim, because it affects and continues to affect his ability to bend his knee, go up or down stairs, or crouch, squat, kneel, or run without pain. As a result of his knee injury, notwithstanding the successful surgeries, it is now apparent, with his knee pain, and difficulty crouching and bending, that he would not be able to continue employment as a copier repair person, which was what he had done at RISO before the accident.
 I find that the plaintiff continues to suffer from pain to his knee and that further surgical options are limited until much later. A total knee replacement at a much later age appears to be the only possible surgical solution to deal with ongoing pain and discomfort.