Personal Injury Blog

Court Awards $100,000 in Non-Pecuniary Damages for Plaintiff with Pre-Existing Disability

December 15, 2016

In reasons for judgment released this morning, the court in Ramchuk v. Wagar, 2016 BCSC 2342, awarded a plaintiff $100,000 in damages for non-pecuniary loss.  The plaintiff in Ramchuk had a pre-existing back injury which had permanently disabled him from work and resulted in him being addicted to opioid painkillers and walking with the use of a cane.  The court said:

[2]             Mr. Ramchuk was 51 years old at the time of the Collision. At that point he had been on an Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board (“WCB”) pension for approximately 11 years. He started receiving the pension after sustaining significant back injuries (the “Workplace Injury”) after a fall from a roof while working as a sheet metal worker in September 1996…

[5]             Mr. Ramchuk’s prescription medication consistently included opioids, at times prescribed at levels now recognized as inappropriate and even dangerous. Medical professional associations have reconsidered the prescribing of opioids over the last few years and have recommended that physicians significantly cut back on the use of opioids to manage chronic pain. Studies have recognized that continuing high dosages have little long-term beneficial effect and can lead to addiction and other health risks. From the evidence heard in this case, it appears an ongoing debate exists as to what dosage is potentially beneficial and yet safe for treatment.

[11]         Mr. Ramchuk said he could manage the pain from the Workplace Injury by employing postures and strategies he adopted when the pain became disabling. His sleep pattern developed into periods of three to four hours’ sleep, following which he would wake to change his posture. Mr. Ramchuk kept a cane with him throughout his daily activities, but only used it occasionally.

[48]         As is always the case, assessments are individual to the particular circumstances of the individual involved. In this case, I accept that the loss of lifestyle factor is a significant one and set non-pecuniary general damages in the sum of $100,000.

The full text of the decision can be found here: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/16/23/2016BCSC2342.htm

The McQuarrie Hunter Personal Injury Blog is maintained by the ICBC and personal injury practice group at McQuarrie Hunter LLP.