Claimant’s experts out-persuade ICBC’s specialists- judge awards $765,395 for chronic pain

Ms Lauriente was injured in an mva in 2010 & developed chronic neck pain & headaches. The main issue in her trial was whether they impaired her future ability to work full-time as an RN. Dr. Locht, an orthopedic surgeon, assessed Ms. L for ICBC. He wrote that Ms L’s injuries did not give rise to any impairment in her function. The judge dismissed his opinion & wrote that:

 

Dr Locht’s “conclusion, however, was based overwhelmingly on the lack of objective pathology that explained her ongoing difficulties. I consider that that conclusion, respectfully, is simplistic.” In his cross examination Dr Locht admitted that:

  • an individual can have pain without any objective pathology that explains that pain,
  • such pain can prevent individuals from working,
  • such pain could constitute a “functional impairment”,
  • there is a link between chronic pain and depression,
  • depression can be secondary to pain,
  • depression can exacerbate pain,
  • pain can affect sleep leading to a further deterioration in condition &
  • these various conditions can give rise to a deterioration in function over time.

 

In his decision, Mr. Justice Voith put great credence on:

  • the believability of Ms. L, which was absolutely critical,
  • the opinions & pessimistic prognosis of Dr. Gordon Robinson, a senior Vancouver neurologist & headache specialist &
  • the opinion of Ms Craig, an OT after her lengthy functional capacity evaluation, that Ms L was only partially capable of meeting the demands of her RN job (see below)

& awarded Ms. L a total of $765,395.

 

This was made up of the following awards for:

  • pain & suffering: $100,000,
  • past wage loss: $32,000,
  • lost future earning capacity: $450,000,
  • cost of future care: $160,000,
  • loss of housekeeping capacity $10,000 &
  • out of pocket expenses (special damages): $13,395.

 

Ms. Craig wrote in her report:

“…Her main limitations to performing [RN] work of this nature are her reduced capacity for

  • the heavier tasks (such as lifting & positioning patients & completing CPR compressions for longer durations (i.e. more than two to three rounds of two minutes is beyond her capacity & is likely to result in neck pain and headache)),
  • looking up at monitors/IV bags/ upper supply shelves,
  • looking down/stooping for longer periods for wound dressings/performing minor procedures/patient assessment,
  • assuming awkward positions of her neck & spine, and
  • repetitive or forceful reaching“.

 

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