Reasons for judgement were released earlier this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, awarding damages for injuries and loss flowing from a BC motor vehicle collision.
In this week’s case (Garcha v. Duenas) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2007 collision. He was a passenger in a truck which was struck when the Defendant “made a sudden left hand turn across (the Plaintiff’s vehicles) path“. Fault for the crash was admitted focusing the trial on the value of the Plaintiff’s claim.
The Plaintiff suffered various injuries, many of which recovered by the time of trial. One injury unfortunately lingered on, specifically tendonitis in his shoulders. This inflammation caused pain which limited the Plaintiff domestically, recreationally and vocationally. The symptoms were not expected to improve with time. In valuing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $70,000 Madam Justice Boyd made the following findings:
 Dr. Parhar holds the opinion that since the accident the plaintiff has been suffering the ongoing effects of a shoulder tendonitis, that is an inflammation of the shoulder tendons, resulting from the acute trauma suffered at the time of the motor vehicle accident. I note here that on cross examination, Dr. Tarazi also opined that the right shoulder complaints were likely related to the injuries suffered in the motor vehicle accident. Even if the injury was related to repetitive movements, he believed that this was due to the fact that due to his injuries, the plaintiff was likely posturally over- compensating in some way, thus giving rise to the shoulder complaints. In the absence of the motor vehicle injuries, he doubted the shoulder complaints would have arisen. ..
 On a review of all the evidence I am satisfied the plaintiff has proven on a balance of probabilities that his continuing complaints are legitimate and that they are indeed causally related to the injuries suffered at the time of this motor vehicle accident…
 Considering all of the evidence, I find that an appropriate award of general damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life is $70,000…
 In the end result, I am satisfied the plaintiff has proven that he is now permanently partially disabled. Adopting the opinion of Dr. Parhar, I am satisfied that given the activation of his osteoarthritis, his condition will likely worsen over time.
For more on this topic you can click here to access my archived posts of other recent BC Court Cases assessing damages for shoulder injuries
Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing damages for accident related soft tissue injuries and shoulder impingement.
In last week’s case (Dial v. Grewal) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 BC motor vehicle collision. Fault for the crash was admitted focusing the trial on the value of the claim. The Plaintiff faced some credibility challenges at trial and the Court found that she “exaggerated” some of her testimony about the extent of her symptoms however Associate Chief Justice MacKenzie found that the plaintiff did suffer real injuries including traumatic right shoulder impingement. In assessing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $50,000 the Court made the following findings:
 For the reasons that follow, I find on the evidence as a whole that an appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages is $50,000 for the injuries the plaintiff sustained to her neck and right shoulder, the aggravation of her pre-existing low back condition and headaches, and more minor injuries to her ribs, and dizziness…
 The purpose of a non-pecuniary damage award is to compensate a plaintiff for pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of amenities. While each award must be made with reference to the particular facts of the case, other decisions may assist the court in arriving at an award that is fair to both parties: Smaill v. Williams, 2010 BCSC 73 at para. 78…
 The plaintiff relies on the following cases in support of her submission that $80,000 is the appropriate quantum for non-pecuniary damages: Kasic v. Leyh, 2009 BCSC 649;Predinchuk v. Spencer, 2009 BCSC 1396; Thomas v. Bounds, 2009 BCSC 462; and Lee v. Metheral, 2006 BCSC 1841.
 I find, conversely, that these cases support higher awards than is fair in this case because the defendants have no obligation to compensate the plaintiff for symptoms attributable to her pre-accident low back condition. That said, I find that an award that is just and fair to both parties is $50,000.
 As I have already discussed, the plaintiff’s testimony about her symptoms and pain was at times vague and at others, exaggerated. Nevertheless, I accept that she suffered substantial pain for months after the accident, as is supported by the medical evidence in this case. Her pain gradually improved, and she was able to substitute for her husband at work about 14 to 18 months after the accident, albeit primarily for a few hours at a time but also with a few full-time shifts. By that time, her neck and shoulder pain were manageable. The aggravation of her pre-existing low back condition had also resolved such that her back had returned to its pre-accident condition.
Reasons for judgement were released today discussing two ares of interest in the context of an ICBC injury claim; the non-pecuniary value of a shoulder injury and “failure to mitigate” for following naturopathic remedies instead of recommended surgery.
In today’s case (Hauer v. Clendenning) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 BC vehicle collision. The Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle involved in an intersection crash. The crash was “significant, causing extensive damage to both vehicles“. Fault was admitted by the Defendant focusing the trial on the value of the case.
- Discussion of Non-Pecuniary Damages for Plaintiff’s Shoulder Injury
The Plaintiff suffered various soft tissue injuries which improved by the time of trial. The Plaintiff’s most serious injury was a right shoulder injury which remained symptomatic by the time of trial.
The Court heard evidence from a number of expert physicians including orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Richardson who gave evidence that the Plaintiff has a rotator cuff injury to her right shoulder resulting in tendonitis and impingement. Her prognosis for full recover was “guarded“.
Mr. Justice Slade assessed the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $50,000. In arriving at this figure the Court made the following findings and provided the following analysis:
 It is not a matter of contention among the medical experts that the plaintiff sustained soft tissue injuries in the August 6, 2006 accident. These injuries were to the neck, shoulder, and back. ..
 The medical experts are all of the view that the plaintiff will benefit from injections in the shoulder area, that being the most problematic of the plaintiff’s injuries. Dr. Aitken and Dr. Richardson say that she may benefit from arthroscopic surgery on the shoulder…
 I accept the evidence of the lay witnesses that the plaintiff was active and fully able to perform the physical demands of her employment before the accident, and after the accident, is no longer as active or able to perform to the pre-accident level. The evidence of the plaintiff, the lay witnesses, and Dr. Richardson, establish a causal connection between the accident and the plaintiff’s ongoing shoulder pain, and establish, as fact, the contribution of injuries sustained in the accident to the present condition of her shoulder.
 The plaintiff’s shoulder pain has persisted, largely undiminished, from the time of the accident. ..
 I find that the accident is a significant contributing factor to her shoulder injury, and that the plaintiff has established causation on the “but for” test described in Resurfice Corp. v. Hanke, 2007 SCC 7,  1 S.C.R. 333…
 Considering these authorities and the factors set out by Kirkpatrick J.A. in Stapley v. Hejslet, 2006 BCCA 34 at paras. 45-46, 263 D.L.R. (4th) 19, leave to appeal ref’d  S.C.C.A. No. 100, I award the plaintiff $50,000 in non-pecuniary damages.
- Failure to Mitigate:
Further to my previous articles on the subject, it is well established that the Court can reduce a Plaintiff’s award in a personal injury claim if a Plaintiff unreasonably fails to follow medical advice where the medical would have likely improved the injuries.
In today’s case the Defendant argued that the Plaintiff failed to mitigate her damages by not having injections and/or surgery on her shoulder injury. Mr. Justice Slade agreed with this submission and found that the Plaintiff failed to mitigate her damages by not following the advice of the orthopaedic surgeons and instead choosing naturopathic remedies. The Court reduced the Plaintiff’s damages by 30% as a result. Specifically Mr. Justice Slade held as follows:
 The defendant bears the burden of establishing that the plaintiff has failed to mitigate her loss, in this case that she failed to follow medical direction, and that had she followed that advice, she would have recovered further or faster: Janiak v. Ippolito,  1 S.C.R. 146.
 The plaintiff prefers naturopathic remedies. She was influenced by advice given by a friend on the effect of injections. A physician advised her, informally, that she may not benefit from surgery. On these bases, she declined to act on the recommendations of three well-qualified orthopaedic surgeons to take injections into the shoulder area, and to consider arthroscopic surgery. Dr. Richardson puts the percentage chance of improvement from arthroscopic surgery at between 70-80%.
 There are, of course, risks associated with surgery, though these seem minimal. If the plaintiff underwent surgery, there may be some losses during the recovery period.
 There will be a reduction of 30% of the amounts awarded for general damages, loss of income earning capacity, and cost of care due to the plaintiff’s failure to mitigate.