Assessing Damages for an "Old School" Plaintiff with Soft Tissue Injuries
Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for soft tissue injuries sustained by a Plaintiff who sought very little medical treatment.
In this week’s case (Baker v. Clark) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision for which the Defendant was at fault. He suffered soft tissue injuries and was assessed by his family physician. By the time of trial the Plaintiff still had symptoms but had not seen his physician for over two years. The Court accepted that this was due to the plaintiff’s stoic ‘old school’ attitude. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $30,000 Mr. Justice Crawford provided the following reasons:
 I am satisfied Mr. Baker sustained soft-tissue injuries to his neck and upper-back. He attended physiotherapy, but no report was tendered from the physiotherapist. That treatment evidently was for his neck and upper-back. Mr. Baker made no complaint of headaches. He was off work for three months and returned in late July 2011. After experiencing difficulty with both his neck and his low-back that became evident with the hours of sitting required of a taxi driver, he purchased an ObusForme to help his seated posture. He found that getting in and out of the cab regularly when he would stand-up and stretch eased his neck and back pain.
 Dr. McKenzie’s independent assessment confirmed the neck injury though the doctor was somewhat guarded in his ongoing opinion. However, regarding Mr. Baker’s low-back pain, the doctor concluded the pain was due to de-conditioning and not because of the car accident. I am driven to an opposite conclusion for it seems equally sensible, if not more sensible, that Mr. Baker’s de-conditioning was because of the car accident…
 A fair conclusion is that Mr. Baker is a “old-school” man: he is robustly built and of few words; he does not complain, and indeed, he rarely saw a doctor before the accident and then only to get his health check as the taxi company requires.
 He also has not seen his family doctor about his injuries for some two years. Dr. Jones, his family doctor, wrote his letter of opinion in December 2011, some eight months after the accident. Both Dr. Jones and Dr. McKenzie were guarded about the long-term prognosis for complete recovery of Mr. Baker’s soft-tissue injuries. I conclude they were guarded due to Mr. Baker’s age and the likelihood that patients in their sixties are not going to recover from soft-tissue injuries as they might have in their earlier decades…
 Counsel provided a number of cases, and of course, none are precisely alike. But I do find the defendant’s cases more on point or more similar to Mr. Baker’s situation. On the other hand, Mr. Baker’s leisure activities in his retirement are being substantially affected. I accordingly award him $30,000 general damages.