Preszler Injury Lawyers Win at Trial Again

The BC Supreme Court recently published reasons for their decision in Bucholtz v Zhang, 2020 BCSC 571. In Bucholtz, Preszler lawyer Seth Wheeldon obtained a $188,603 judgment in favour of the plaintiff. This is a strong result considering that the plaintiff worked through his pain and therefore had not suffered any wage loss. For background, the plaintiff was injured when the defendant rear-ended his vehicle in 2015. ICBC admitted the defendant’s liability for the accident and that the plaintiff was suffering from soft-tissue injuries. At trial, ICBC’s expert witness, Dr. Rickards, took the position that the plaintiff’s injuries would fully resolve in 12-18 months with a “moderate exercise program”.

Seth marshaled several experts who disputed Dr. Rickards’ characterization of the case. Dr. Hershler demonstrated objective evidence to the Court of the severity of the plaintiff’s soft tissue injuries and the unlikelihood that the plaintiff’s injuries would resolve on the foreseeable future. In addition, kinesiologist Ralph Kowalik demonstrated that the plaintiff was suffering from real limitations in his ability to work.

Madam Justice Horsman preferred the plaintiff’s view of the evidence, noting the superior experience of Dr. Hershler in the field of chronic pain treatment:

[50] I prefer the evidence of Dr. Hershler over that of Dr. Rickards given Dr. Hershler’s superior expertise in the treatment and management of chronic pain. Dr. Hershler is an expert in physical medicine and rehabilitation. He has extensive experience teaching and researching in the area of rehabilitative medicine, and 30 years of experience treating patients experiencing chronic pain in his private practice. Dr. Rickards, by contrast, is an orthopaedic surgeon, whose practice was limited to orthopaedic surgery until 2011. Dr. Rickards’ training in the area of chronic pain consists of a three-month course in pain management, which he completed in 2014. His clinical experience is limited to performing spinal interventions at the Langley Pain Clinic over a two-year period.

[51] Dr. Rickards acknowledged in cross-examination that the plaintiff’s pain symptoms could persist indefinitely, notwithstanding Dr. Rickards’ optimistic prognosis. Given Dr. Hershler’s greater expertise in the treatment of chronic pain, I prefer his evidence in assessing the likelihood that the plaintiff will in fact experience chronic pain beyond the recovery time predicted by Dr. Rickards.

In addition, Madam Justice Horsman dismissed ICBC’s argument that the plaintiff’s award should be discounted on account of some of his pre-accident injuries:

[54] In my view, the evidence does not support a reduction in damages to account for the plaintiff’s unrelated health conditions. Based on the evidence before me, I find that the plaintiff was able to manage his lower back pain prior to the Accident without serious impacts on his work and personal life, and that he would have continued to do so but for the Accident.

Ultimately, the Court recognized the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries and the substantial effect of those injuries on both his work and recreational activities. The plaintiff was awarded $85,000 for his pain and suffering, $80,000 in compensation for his lost ability to earn income, and $20,000 for his future medical treatment expenses.

This case illustrates the importance of hiring experienced and qualified experts to advance your personal injury claim.  Without having those experts available to counter ICBC’s arguments, the Court is not given the full picture of your medical condition and your award could be substantially reduced. For more information on how our personal injury lawyers can help contact our law firm today for a free consultation.



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