$110,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic C5/6 Disc Herniation

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a chronic disc injury sustained in a collision.

In today’s case (Arletto v. Kin) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2010 head on collision.  The Defendant admitted fault.  The Plaintiff sustained a variety of injuries the most serous of which was a disc herniation in his neck which caused chronic symptoms which adversely affected his career as a longshoreman.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $110,000 Madam Justice Dillon provided the following reasons:

[30]         The overwhelming medical opinions and testimony lead to the conclusion that the plaintiff did not have a pre-existing degenerative condition of the cervical spine. He was very healthy and had not been to a doctor in years.

[31]         Dr. Chin stated that there was a risk of further progression of the disc protrusion resulting in worsening symptoms in the future due to repeat injury or trauma. He considered that Arletto was vulnerable to this risk given the nature of his occupation and the fact of disease progression in the absence of additional trauma. Non-surgical management was recommended for now but the possibility of surgery in the future was not ruled out. Dr. Loomer thought that surgery could be a therapeutic consideration if Arletto’s symptoms became intolerable.

[32]         Dr. Nguyen also thought that there was an increased risk of progression of the disc protrusion with the plaintiff’s work. He recommended on-site ergonomic assessment but did not realize that Arletto changes his lift truck daily such that adaptation for individual ergonomics is not practical. He concluded that repetitive neck movement placed Arletto at risk for progression not only of disc herniation, but also arm weakness and worsening neck pain. In cross-examination, Dr. Nguyen said that Arletto was not a candidate for surgery now but that he could be in the future if the pain symptoms were accompanied by weakness or sensory loss.

[33]         Dr. Stancer said that the whooshing sounds that the plaintiff experiences in his left ear are not treatable. The symptoms had not improved over time and are likely to continue indefinitely. The same was said for the headaches with the expectation that they would continue in the same pattern with resultant sleep disruption…

[35]         It is now over five years since the accident. Only the soft tissue injury to the lower back has healed. The plaintiff has continued to work despite shifting pain and other symptoms. There appears no resolution to symptoms from his ongoing injuries. He has lost whatever enjoyment he had from what had already been a limited social life. He continues to look after his personal needs, in keeping with his non-malingering attitude. He has been perseverant and dedicated. As stated by Dr. Stancer, Arletto has coped surprisingly well in the face of continuing pain and uncertainty about his future…

[44]         The plaintiff’s situation is unique. The comparison cases are helpful but only indicators of how others’ pain and suffering were dealt with.

[45]         Arletto was 47 years old at the time of the accident. He had worked his way up to a full time union job as a longshoreman driving a forklift truck and enjoyed some seniority in that position. He was single but with strong family ties and had looked after his sister. He was driving his nephew to a game when the accident occurred. He was known to be private and reserved but enjoyed the collegiality of the union hall. He was healthy and had never been to a massage or physiotherapist.

[46]         Arletto is now 52 years old. He suffers from permanent pain in his neck and shoulder blade and has numbness and tingling down his left arm and into his fingers. He suffered a left-sided disc protrusion at C5/6 with associated annular tear in the accident. The protrusion has impinged the nerve and spinal cord, causing increased pain. He has undergone trigger point injections and two nerve root blocks to relieve the pain with only temporary relief. He has tinnitus and vertigo as a result of the accident. He suffers headaches about three times per week that interrupt sleep. He takes pain medication as required but not often because it interferes with work. A lower back soft tissue injury resolved after just less than two and a half years. Work aggravates his pain. His work has been permanently affected to the point that he has reduced working hours, given up hope of improving his union rating by becoming a crane operator, and planned for an earlier retirement. His family and other relationships have suffered and he cannot tolerate crowds or a noisy family dinner.

[47]         An appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages in this case is $110,000.

$1 billion insured losses in California fires

By Janie Har

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN FRANCISCO _ Damage from two destructive Northern California wildfires that killed six and sent thousands fleeing their homes topped $1 billion in insured losses, according to a preliminary estimate by the state’s insurance department.

The two fires started days apart in September, burning more than 200 square miles of remote, mountainous territory north and northeast of San Francisco.

The preliminary figure announced Monday includes $700 million from a fire centred largely in Lake County that killed four and destroyed nearly 2,000 structures, including some 1,300 homes. The so-called Valley Fire is the third most destructive wildfire in state history, based on the number of structures lost, and the fifth-costliest based on insured losses.

Another fire in Amador and Calaveras counties caused an estimated $300 million in insured losses. That fire killed two people and destroyed more than 800 buildings, making it the seventh-most destructive wildfire to hit the state.

“A year-round fire season is California’s new reality,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones in a statement. “Residents and communities, especially those in high-risk fire areas, must take precautions now before the next devastating wildfire strikes.”

This is the first damage estimate from the California Department of Insurance for the fires, compiled from insurance claims filed through December. A final figure is months away.

Insurers report they have received 5,600 claims for commercial and residential properties, vehicles and other items. Lake County residents have filed the bulk of claims.

Lake County Supervisor Jim Comstock said $1 billion sounds right.

“I’m not at all surprised because this Valley Fire sought out property with structures on it to burn, it seemed like,” he said. As for Lake County’s place in wildfire history, he said, “It’s an infamy, unfortunately.”

The $1 billion does not include uninsured losses nor does it include damage to public roads and utilities.

For that, global insurance company Aon Benfield estimated last year that the two fires did nearly $2 billion in economic damage, including business interruption. About $1.5 billion of that was in Lake County alone.

Aon reported insured losses for the two fires topped $1.2 billion, including $975 million in Lake County. That’s within ballpark range of the state’s figures, said Aon associate director Steve Bowen.

“These two fires by themselves were two of the costliest in the state of California since 2007,” he said. “We’re talking about a once-in-a-decade type of event in the losses alone.”

Bowen said the fire in Lake County is the fifth costliest wildfire in state and U.S. history in terms of insured losses.

The costliest remains the Oakland Hills Fire of 1991, with damage covered by insurance costing $2.9 billion when adjusted for inflation. The second costliest is a 2007 wildfire in San Diego County that caused about $1.8 billion in damage covered by insurance.

The cause of both Northern California fires remains under investigation.

canada-press

As Cdn’s gain weight, London paramedics invest in $30k power stretchers to avoid back injuries

By Jonathan Sher, Postmedia Network

With the fattening of Canadians costing London paramedics perhaps more than $100,000 a year for work lost to back injury, the local EMS has replaced all stretchers with powered models that lift up to 700 pounds.

The powered stretchers cost nearly $30,000 each, more than $1 million for 35, but paramedics say it’s a wise buy that will save backs, knees and the cost of filling in for those too hobbled to work.

“It will definitely decrease injuries and decrease long-term disability claims,” Jay Loosley, a superintendent at Middlesex London EMS, said Tuesday.

In what public health officials are calling the obesity epidemic, the population continues to gain weight

As recently as the 1980s, paramedics had to show they could lift a maximum of 165 pounds. But now, 10 per cent of Canadian men weight at least 228 pounds, EMS director Neil Roberts wrote when he asked Middlesex County council for funding.

“In what public health officials are calling the obesity epidemic, the population continues to gain weight,” Roberts wrote.

Back injuries last year accounted for nearly half of workplace insurance claims at the local EMS at a cost of $160,000. That doesn’t include the expense of modifying responsibilities when paramedics return to work.

So, rather than phase out the manual stretchers, as many EMS services have done, paramedics decided to replace all 35 at once — a move that may be the first-ever in Ontario.

“I’m not aware of any services that have done it all at once,” Loosley said.

With manual stretchers, paramedics raised and lowered the legs of the stretcher repeatedly to get patients on and off of ambulances, all while bearing the weight while one squeezed a lever to release the legs. That left paramedics lifting each patient five times, about 4,500 pounds lifted each day with just three trips to hospital.

The powered stretchers support up to 700 pounds and have legs that each go up or down with the touch of a button — prompting this slogan by the Ohio-based manufacturer Ferno: “Navigate obstacles with your thumb, not your back.”

Paramedics need only to lift patients onto the stretcher at the scene and take them off at hospital.

“(Paramedics) are really happy about their knees and backs,” Loosley said.

Paramedics also can also manoeuvre the powered stretchers over curbs and onto landings. Patients benefit too, Loosley said, because the new stretchers provide more support and cushioning.

“It’s a more comfortable and secure ride,” he said.

The manual stretchers, some as old as 20 years, were sold, while the new models arrived late last year, with training on how best to use them continuing this week.

The county council backed the purchase of the most expensive of three models but only after paramedics test drove each, finding that only one model — the Ferno iN/X — had everything needed. Two other models would needed additional technology and equipment to be bought separately. The county manages the EMS that also serves London.

Insurer: 2015 saw lowest natural disaster losses in 6 years as El Nino curbed Atlantic storms

BERLIN _ Last year saw the lowest financial costs from natural disasters worldwide since 2009 as the El Nino weather phenomenon reduced hurricane activity in the North Atlantic, a leading insurer said Monday.

The year’s most devastating disaster was the earthquake in Nepal in April, but only a fraction of the resulting losses was insured.

Insurer Munich Re said in an annual survey that both insured losses and overall costs resulting from disasters were the lowest since 2009. It said that there were some $27 billion in insured losses, while overall costs including losses not covered by insurance totalled $90 billion. Those figures were down from $31 billion and $110 billion respectively in 2014.

The costliest single event for the insurance industry was a series of winter storms that hit the northeastern U.S. and Canada in February. They generated insured losses of $2.1 billion and total losses of $2.8 billion.

In contrast, the earthquake in Nepal caused total damage valued at $4.8 billion, but only $210 million of that was insured. That underlined the fact that, in developing countries, the level of insurance coverage remains very low.

In several other years, hurricanes hitting North America in particular have caused significant costs to the insurance industry.

However, “in terms of financial losses, we were somewhat fortunate in 2015: strong tropical cyclones frequently only hit sparsely populated areas or did not make landfall at all,” said Peter Hoeppe, the head of Munich Re’s risk research unit. “In the North Atlantic, El Nino helped to curtail the development of heavy storms.”

El Nino is caused by the warming of waters in the Pacific Ocean that causes changes in rainfall patterns. Hoeppe cautioned that scientists believe the phenomenon may be followed by its twin sister, La Nina, which would encourage the formation of North Atlantic hurricanes.

canada-press

Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame Reveals 2015 Inductees

By Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

Source: Insurance Journal

Blown up houses, staged wrecks and bogus spine surgeries were among the damage inflicted by nine convicted scammers newly selected to the Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame.

They were enshrined by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. The Hall of Shame recognizes the year’s most extreme insurance schemers. All were convicted or had other legal closure in 2015.

True-life cases reveal insurance fraud’s high human costs. At least $80 billion is stolen a year. Innocent people are traumatized, injured and lose their savings. Welcome to the crime warp:

Burning desire. Financially strapped Mark Leonard botched an insurance arson of his Indianapolis home. A leaking gas line blew up the place, killed two next-door neighbors and leveled much of the neighborhood.

Puppy plot. Nearly 30 puppies cringed in their cages as Gloria Lee’s henchman spread gasoline around her Las Vegas pet shop for an insurance arson. Incredibly, Lee’s own store security cameras filmed her executing this scheme. The dogs were saved.

Dollars & dents. One of America’s biggest-ever staged crash rings stole money in the New York City area. Crash kingpin Mikhail Zemlyansky churned out $279 million in false injury claims from setup wrecks. He bribed doctors to make false diagnoses.

Spineless spinal con. Dr. Aria Sabit sliced open and fused spines of healthy patients to try and steal $32 million of insurance money. Some of the Detroit-area man’s patients were disfigured and permanently injured.

Unsettling settlements. Manhattan attorney Steven Krawitz stole $1.9 million of insurance settlements from nearly 50 clients. Most received no money; some were destitute. Krawitz even stole from a 96-year-old great-grandmother.

Unhealthy health plans. At least 12,000 consumers bought fake health coverage William Worthy sold throughout the U.S. in a $14-million theft. Many of the South Carolina man’s victims had thousands of dollars in unpaid hospital bills.

Police raid. NYPD officer Jose Urena became lawless. He kept buying Mercedes he couldn’t afford. He then burned, vandalized or crashed them for false insurance claims — and to escape car payments.

Lifeless life plot. Debt-ridden Jose Lantigua bribed corrupt officials to declare he’d died and was cremated in Venezuela. The Jacksonville, Fla. man tried to steal more than $9 million in life insurance. Except Lantigua looked nothing like the U.S. man whose identity he stole.

Deadly life insurance. Pierre Collins beat his son Barway to death, duct-taped his body and threw him into a Minneapolis river for a mere $50,000 in life insurance.

Source: Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

The man’s insurance claim was denied, as Aviva believed the man had the financial motive to commit arson.

Read more

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