ICBC Law

BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog

Erik MagrakenThis Blog is authored by British Columbia ICBC injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken. Erik is a partner with the British Columbia personal injury law-firm MacIsaac & Company. He restricts his practice exclusively to plaintiff-only personal injury claims with a particular emphasis on ICBC injury claims involving orthopaedic injuries and complex soft tissue injuries. Please visit often for the latest developments in matters concerning BC personal injury claims and ICBC claims

Erik Magraken does not work for and is not affiliated in any way with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Please note that this blog is for information only and is not claim-specific legal advice.  Erik can only provide legal advice to clients. Please click here to arrange a free consultation.

Archive for March, 2012

ICBC "Does Not Have Any Duty" To Tell You When Your Claim Expires

March 30th, 2012

Limitation periods are important.  If your case is not settled before your limitation period expires a formal lawsuit needs to be filed within time otherwise the right to pursue the claim effectively disappears.

When dealing with ICBC directly it is important not to rely on them for assistance in bringing limitation periods to your attention.  They are under no duty to tell you when your limitation is coming up.  ICBC is allowed to ‘run the clock’.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, demonstrating this reality.

In today’s case (Field v. Harvey) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2008 collision.  In her dealings with ICBC some discussions were had regarding settlement with ICBC writing a ‘without prejudice‘ letter referencing bills for massage therapy indicating that “we can discuss this at the time of settlement“.

The Plaintiff never did settle her claim.   She commenced a formal lawsuit but did so after her limitation period expired.  The Plaintiff argued that ICBC should be estopped from relying on the limitation period because of ICBC’s letter discussing settlement.  Mr. Justice Bracken disagreed and dismissed the lawsuit.  In doing so the Court provided the following words of caution:

[27] Finally, the defendants argue that ICBC does not have any duty, statutory or otherwise, to inform potential claimants of the specific date on which the right to commence an action upon a claim will expire…

[30] It is clear from the case law that ICBC was under no obligation to warn the plaintiff that the limitation period had commenced, was not postponed, and would soon expire….

[36] The plaintiff relies solely on the December 15, 2008, letter for her argument that the defence of estoppel can be applied as a defence to the provisions of the Limitation Act. That letter explicitly states: “[n]othing herein contained is or shall be construed as either an admission of liability on the part of the insured or a waiver or extension of any applicable limitation period.”

[37] A reasonable interpretation of this letter in no way evidences a representation or promise, by convention or otherwise, to waive or extend the applicable limitation period. In my opinion, it does quite the opposite by warning the plaintiff that, although all claims are negotiated toward the goal of settlement, time is still running.

[38] Limitation periods exist, in part, to encourage plaintiffs to bring their actions in a timely manner. The plaintiff has failed to bring her action in a timely manner and has not satisfied this court that there exists a lawful reason for her failure to comply with the provisions of the Limitation Act.

[39] The plaintiff’s cause of action is therefore dismissed, pursuant to s. 9 of the Limitation Act, as having been commenced after the expiry of the applicable limitation period.


Future LTD Benefits Not Deducted in ICBC UMP Claim Due to Payment Suspension Clause

March 30th, 2012

In my ongoing efforts to summarize UMP Arbitration decisions, a stack of historic UMP cases have recently been provided to me by colleagues in the Plaintiff bar which I will post as time permits.  To this end, below is a summary of a useful 1999 decision addressing the deductibility of future Long Term Disability Benefits in an UMP Claim.

In the 1999 decision (M. v. ICBC) the Claimant was severely injured in a 1993 collision.   The Claimant and ICBC came to a mediated settlement valuing the claim at $1.2 million.  The Defendant was under-insured and an arbitration was held to determine what amounts were deductible from the Claimant’s UMP coverage.

The Claimant had a private policy of insurance with Canada Life.   They had paid over $70,000 in LTD benefits.  It was agreed that these were deductible.   ICBC argued that these payments would continue and the present value of future payments had to be deducted from the settlement amount.

Arbitrator Yule disagreed due to a ‘payment suspension‘ clause in the LTD contract.  In not deducting future LTD payments from Canada Life Arbitrator Yule provided the following reasons:

79.  …The critical provision regarding what is payable in the subrogation provision is the term that says “if a lump sum payment is made under judgment or settlement for loss of future income or for future period or lump sum benefits which would otherwise be payable under this policy, no further benefits will be paid under this policy until such time as the monthly or periodic benefits which would otherwise be payable under this policy equal the amount received in the lump sum”…

81. …One looks to the ICBC Regulations and, in this case, the definition of deductible amount.  One item to be deducted is an amount “payable to the insured under any benefit”.  One then looks to the Canada Life Policy to see whether the future disability benefits will be payable in the sense that they are going to be paid.  In this case, the result of the payment of the UMP Claim is that the future Canada Life benefits will not be paid because of the integration provisions of the Policy.  In my view, then, the future Canada Life benefits are not payable and do not constitute a deductible amount.

Like many UMP Cases, This decision is not publicly available but, as always, I’m happy to provide a copy to anyone who contacts me and requests one.


Nothing Funny About Impaired Driving, But…

March 29th, 2012

While there’s nothing funny about impaired driving (an offence the below man is reportedly charged with) there certainly is something amusing about this full length version of Bohemian Rhapsody this fellow belts out in the back of an RCMP cruiser.  Scroll 3 minutes in and enjoy!


$100,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment For Chronic Pain Syndrome

March 29th, 2012

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, discussing causation and quantum of damages for chronic pain syndrome.

In this week’s case (Mohan v. Khan) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2007 collision in Vancouver, BC.  Although ICBC denied the issue of fault the Defendant was ultimately found fully liable for the crash.  The Plaintiff suffered various soft tissue injuries and went to suffer from a chronic pain disorder.  Despite some concerns about the Plaintiff’s ‘exaggeration‘ and a further finding that the Plaintiff failed to mitigate her damages the Court assessed non-pecuniary damages at $100,000.  In doing so Mr. Justice Bowden provided the following reasons:

[158] This case went to trial approximately 4½ years after the motor vehicle accident in which the plaintiff was injured. There is no question that the plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries from the accident. Had those injuries taken three or four months to resolve, this litigation would most likely not have taken place. What has led to this court case and a substantial claim for damages is that the plaintiff asserts that she suffers from what is described as chronic pain disorder long after her physical injuries from the accident have resolved.

[159] Based on the evidence of the medical experts it is apparent that chronic pain disorder is a condition that involves both physical trauma and psychological factors…

[163] Based on the testimony of the medical experts I am satisfied that the pain described by the plaintiff, in large part, is real and I do not find her to be dishonest. However, in my view, she has exaggerated her symptoms to some degree…

[168] Having considered these opinions and the opinions of the other experts, I am satisfied that the motor vehicle accident, which I have already determined to have resulted from the defendant Mohan’s negligence, was largely, although not exclusively, the cause of the plaintiff’s “constellation” of conditions. The plaintiff has established on a balance of probabilities that the defendant’s negligence materially contributed to her condition. I am also satisfied that the plaintiff’s condition is not motivated by a desire for secondary gain. By that I mean the third principle stated by Lambert J. I accept that the plaintiff wishes to be free from her pain; however, her failure to mitigate, much like the exaggeration of her symptoms, in my view should be considered in the determination of damages.

[169] Dr. Anderson and Dr. Caillier both expressed the opinion that the plaintiff suffered from chronic pain disorder. None of the medical experts said that the plaintiff does not suffer from chronic pain disorder. The defendant’s expert neurologist Dr. Teal opined that the plaintiff’s primary problems were related to symptoms of pain which are significantly amplified by psychological factors. At the same time, he agreed with counsel for the plaintiff that some of his observations were consistent with someone with chronic pain disorder.

[170] I am satisfied that the plaintiff’s condition is properly described as chronic pain disorder…

[187] Having considered the cases referred to by counsel for both parties, and factoring in the failure of the plaintiff to mitigate as well as her exaggeration of her symptoms, I have concluded that an award of non-pecuniary damages should be $100,000.


A Costly Reality: Unrecoverable Interest and "Litigation Loans"

March 28th, 2012

In Canada there are several litigation loan companies in operation that provide financing for injured Plaintiffs.  In short they provide loans and use the plaintiff’s personal injury claim as collateral.  They charge interest for this service, sometimes this interest is incredibly steep.

Plaintiffs need to exercise great caution before taking on such high interest loans for the simple reason that the interest is likely not a recoverable damage in their personal injury lawsuit.  Reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this issue.

In yesterday’s case (Campbell v. Swetland) the Plaintiff sustained multiple injuries in a catastrophic motorcycle collision.  These included brain injury with cognitive impairment, an open book pelvic injury, incontinence and a host of other orthopaedic and soft tissue injuries.  The parties settled some issues before trial including non-pecuniary damages agreed at $290,000.

Prior to trial the Plaintiff borrowed funds from a litigation loan company.  By the time of trial the interest on these loans was over $42,000.  The Plaintiff sought to recover this interest.  Mr. Justice Wong concluded such a claim is not sustainable as it is too remote.  The Court provided the following reasons:

[91] The plaintiff in opening and closing submissions has claimed interest incurred on loans post accident in order to complete necessary renovations to her home and funds to cover her living expenses. She submitted that post accident, with her severe injuries, she was incapable of gainful employment. Her only source of income was a $900 monthly government disability cheque. Hence the loans from lending institutions with high rates of interest. The total interest now owing from two loans is now $42, 453.

[92] It should be noted the plaintiff’s claim for the cost of financing her loans is not pled in her Notice of Civil Claim.

[93] The Defendant submits that it is not a recoverable head of damage. It is not known to law, by virtue of remoteness, or it is a special damage; special damages have already been resolved by agreement of the parties…

[96] In employment law, interest paid on monies borrowed to cover personal expenses while in between jobs have been held not to be recoverable as special damages [Millman v. Leon’s Furniture Ltd. [1983], 83 CLLC 14,071 ((Ont. Co. Ct.) and Kozak v. Montreal Engineering Co. (1984), [1985] 2 WR 641 at page 647 (Alta. Q.B.)].

[97] Similarity, in contract law, losses arising from a plaintiff’s impecuniosity or lack of financial resources have been held not recoverable [Freedhoff v. Pomalift Industries (1971) 19 DLR 3d 153 at page 158 (Ont. C. A.)]…

[99] The Plaintiff spent the initial months post-accident in hospital, but her first lawyer arranged a $30,000 “litigation loan” on November 13, 2008. Of that $30,000, $3,000 was immediately paid as a “processing fee”. After 18 days, $600.00 of interest was already due and owing.

[100] The Defendant submits that the loan was a result of the Plaintiff’s pre-accident indebtedness, not any losses sustained by the Plaintiff as a result of any negligence by the Defendant. If they were, then such losses are too remote and were not reasonably foreseeable to the Defendant.

[101] If a person’s own impecuniosity is the cause of damage, then that damage is not recoverable [Roopam Fashions v. Greenwood Insurance and Broco (2008) BCPC 0254].

[102] The Defendant further submits that the Plaintiff has not reasonably mitigated her financial situation. She has not tried to sell off her classic and prize-winning Harley motorcycle, her exercise machine and the clay art remaining in her studio.

[103] The cost of litigation financing, while not a recoverable head of damage, may be a proper disbursement. However, the most recent law out of both British Columbia and Ontario is that claims for litigation loan financing and interest are not recoverable [MacKenzie v. Rogalasky, 2012 BCSC 156 and Giuliani v. Region of Halton, 2011 ONS C5119]. In Giuliani, Mr. Justice Murray commented that the loan which the Plaintiff had obtained from Lexfund Inc. was:

in effect a contingency arrangement which allows the lender to make huge profits from the proceeds of litigation rather than from a commercially normative interest rate on a risky loan. (para. 52)

and

I am in complete agreement with the submissions of Defendants’ counsel that: “this Court should not reward, sanction or encourage the use of such usurious litigation loans, which in this case has interest provisions that are arguably illegal, otherwise such loans will be seen to be judicially encouraged and could become a common-place tactic.” I agree that an award of interest in this case would likely have an adverse impact on other Defendants’ decisions to proceed to trial or to Appeal. I think the Defendants’ counsel is correct in stating that access to justice is a two-way street. As I have indicated above, to award interest as requested by the [Plaintiff’s counsel] would not facilitate access to justice and would undoubtedly bring the administration of justice into disrepute. (para. 59)

[104] I agree with defence counsels submissions on this head of claim and conclude that it is not recoverable.


$65,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment for Chronic Headaches and Soft Tissue Injuries

March 28th, 2012

Adding to this site’s archived posts of BC non-pecuniary damage assessments for chronic headaches, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this topic.

In last week’s case (Fell v. Morton) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 rear-end collision.  Fault was admitted by the rear motorist.  The Plaintiff suffered from pre-existing neck and upper back pain along with “headaches that were brought on by exertion“.  Following the crash she suffered soft tissue injuries to these regions along with a recurrence of frequent migraine headaches.   These aggravated symptoms continued to the time of trial and the prognosis for full recovery was poor.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $65,000 Madam Justice Fenlon provided the following reasons:

[23] Having considered all of the evidence, I find that Ms. Fell suffered soft tissue injuries to her upper neck and back as a result of the accident. I further find that those injuries triggered a recurrence of migraine headaches that had been almost entirely in remission since the birth of her first son.

[24] The migraines initially occurred twice per week, gradually decreasing to about once or twice each month by the time of trial. Ms. Fell’s headaches are debilitating, involving nausea and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. They sometimes last for two or three days, and all Ms. Fell can do is lie in a darkened room. She could not attend her wedding reception in Mexico in April 2010 because of a migraine headache…

[28] I find that prior to the accident Ms. Fell tended to suffer regularly from neck and upper back pain and headaches that were brought on by exertion. She sought regular massage therapy and chiropractic treatment in relation to those symptoms. She also had a proclivity to develop migraine headaches, and that condition meant she was susceptible to something else triggering her headaches in future.

[29] Ms. Fell should not be compensated for her pre?existing condition or the potential for it to reoccur quite apart from the injuries sustained in the motor vehicle accident…

[38] Ms. Fell is a stoic individual whose attitude in the face of life’s difficulties is to get on with it, in her words, “to suck it up”. She should not receive a lower award of non-pecuniary damages because of that stoicism. Indeed, to the contrary, it is appropriate to include under this head the suffering she endured while she pushed herself to keep working after the accident, despite her injuries.

[39] In summary, the injuries from the accident have affected all areas of Ms. Fell’s life. While she has periods of time when she is unaffected by her injuries, in particular when she avoids exertion, she has curtailed her recreational activities, no longer camping, exercising at the same level, or taking her dogs for on-leash walks with her husband. She has found it difficult to pick up her children and cannot interact with them when she has a migraine. However, as I have earlier noted, I must also take into account her pre?existing condition and proclivity to develop migraine headaches.

[40] Taking all of these considerations into account, I set non-pecuniary damages at $65,000.


Secret Tape Recording Deemed Admissible in BC Civil Lawsuit

March 27th, 2012

From time to time BC Courts struggle with the issue of whether evidence obtained through secret tape recording is admissible in a civil trial.  Reasons for judgement were published yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this topic.

In yesterday’s case (Lam v. Chiu) the Plaintiff sued the Defendant for damages based on unjust enrichment.  Prior to trial the Plaintiff had a conversation with the Defendant that he secretly recorded.  In the course of the discussion the Defendant arguably acknowledged the alleged debt.

The Plaintiff sought to introduce the secret recording at trial.  The Defendant opposed arguing secretly recorded evidence is too prejudicial to be admitted at trial.  After thoroughly canvassing several authorities addressing this area of the law Madam Justice Gray found the evidence should be admitted.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[25] So I am going to summarize the law I have referred to by saying that there is a discretion in the court to exclude evidence where the prejudicial effect outweighs the probative value. There are cases where the court has commented on the practice of recording household conversations between family members and described that as odious. The court has also referred to illegal tape-recording, that is, tape-recordings when no party to the conversation had consented to it being recorded.

[26] The case before me is not a family case. It is not a case where custody is in issue and it is not a case where the recording took place in the household of a family. The recording, in fact, took place primarily on the street outside Ms. Chiu’s workplace. It is not a case where there is an ongoing relationship of trust between parents.

[27] This is a situation where the relationship between Mr. Lam and Ms. Chiu has broken down, and there is no need for them to have an ongoing relationship except to resolve the lawsuit before me. It is not a case of a large volume of material. It is a case of one recording. It is not a case where the recording is being put forward to show a general practice of how someone interacts with their children as in the Seddon case. It is a case where there is an allegation about a narrow point, that is, discussion about the existence of a loan.

[28] I will summarize the factors in this case as follows. First, with respect to probative value, I will say that I have to refer to it for the purposes of considering admissibility and, at this stage, I am not weighing the evidence or making any comment about what weight, if any, should be given to the evidence. In my view, there may be some probative value to the tape-recording. There is some concern about the statement by Ms. Chiu, that, “But I tell you, you want to have the $100,000. No way because you treat me like that. That’s pay for it.”  There may also be other utterances by Ms. Chiu giving rise to concern, but that is the one that is most prominent, in my view.

[29] I also consider the probative value in contrast with what the situation would be if the recording is not admitted. Mr. Lam could testify that he met with Ms. Chiu, demanded the payment of the loan, that she did not deny that it was owing, and she said she had no intention of repaying it. That summary might well be accurate, but it would not give the full flavour of the conversation which is available from considering the recording and the transcript. So there is some probative value to having the full conversation reported as accurately as it can be.

[30] In terms of prejudice, there clearly is unfairness when one party knows that a conversation is being tape-recorded and the other party does not. That is clear on the evidence and can be taken into account on considering what, if any, weight the evidence ought to be given. Mr. McMillan argued that the context was prejudicial. However, Ms. Chiu can supply any more evidence she chooses about the context of the discussion including any other background and any other concerns about the language.

[31] The matter which gave me the greatest concern was the question of the impact on the administration of justice of permitting the admission into evidence of a surreptitious recording. I am not sure that I can characterize this surreptitious recording as odious. That was a term used by Mr. Justice Thackray and embraced by other judges, but when they were referring to recordings in a home with an ongoing parental relationship and, as I have said, that does not apply here. Whether it is odious or not, the recording was certainly unfair. It is not criminal because Mr. Lam knew the recording was being made. As I have said, the recording was staged and therefore unfair, but that is apparent from the recording.

[32] This is a not a clear case. In my view, there is some probative value to admitting the full recording, and the concerns about prejudice are not sufficiently significant that the recording should be excluded from evidence, primarily because any concerns about them are clear on the recording itself.

[33] So my ruling on the voir dire is that the recording is admissible.


Indivisible Injury Assessment Where a Plaintiff is Partly At Fault

March 26th, 2012

In 2010 the BC Court of Appeal made it clear that a Plaintiff’s compensation is not to be reduced if an injury suffered in part by the negligent conduct of a Defendant is ‘indivisble‘ from other causes.  But what about circumstances where a Plaintiff’s own conduct partly contributed to the indivisible injury?  How should damages be addressed then?  Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing such a scenario.

In last week’s case (Demidas v. Poinen) the Plaintiff was involved in 5 collisions.  He was not at fault for 4 of these and sued for damages.  The plaintiff was at fault for the fifth collision.  All five collisions caused a “cumulative” injury with each impact “exacerbating the symptoms that remained from the previous one to a collective whole“.

In addressing the “imperfect exercise” in assessing damages in these circumstances Madam Justice Humphries provided the following reasons:

[50] Counsel for the plaintiff approached the fifth “at-fault” accident as a question of contributory negligence which would reduce the non-pecuniary award to some extent.  When questioned about this by the court, he could provide no cases to support such an approach.  Counsel for the defendant said this was not a matter of contributory negligence but did not have an alternative approach.

[51] The effect of the at-fault accident on the overall damage award is not a matter of contributory negligence, although the effect on the overall result may be similar.  It is a matter of ensuring that the defendants are responsible only for the loss and damage they caused to the plaintiff.

[52] None of the cases cited to me by the plaintiff deal with sequential accidents, and none have at-fault accidents in the midst of accidents for which the plaintiff can claim damages.  InMacGillivary, supra, the provincial court judge applied Long v. Thiessen, (1968) 65 W.W.R. 577 and assessed damages separately for each of three accidents.  Where the effects of the injuries are not divisible, as here, that approach is not appropriate as between tortfeasors (Bradley v. Groves 2010 BCCA 1507).  On the other hand, the defendants are not responsible for the injuries Mr. Demidas caused to himself, so the effects of that accident have to be accounted for.

[53] Mr. Demidas says all his symptoms from the June 2009 accident resolved quickly and he was back to where he was before the accident.  In support of his position that the at-fault accident had little long-term effect on him, Mr. Demidas points to Dr. Sharp’s statement that it seems the third accident “set [him] on the road to chronicity”.  However Dr. Sharp says that statement is speculative.

[54] I do not accept Mr. Demidas’ evidence that the June 2009 accident did not exacerbate his symptoms to any significant degree.  This accident was no less serious than the others and in fact resulted in more vehicle damage.  As well, it seems to have caused Mr. Demidas considerable trouble with his knee.  It is very unlikely the exacerbation of soft tissue symptoms would all subside quickly after this accident, whereas the symptoms from the other four accidents would continue to the present time.  Dr. Sharp said the succession of all five accidents “served as the instrumental cause for his chronic neck pain, upper back pain and chronic cervicogenic headaches.”

[55] The effect of the accidents is cumulative, each one exacerbating the symptoms that remained from the previous one to a collective whole.  Therefore it is not appropriate to simply take one figure and multiply it by four as the defendant suggests.

[56] While this is not a situation where damage is divisible and capable of individual apportionment, nevertheless the loss and damage caused by the accident for which Mr. Demidas is at fault must be considered and removed from the overall award so that the defendants are not held responsible for that amount.

[57] This is an imperfect exercise, dealing with intangibles and hypotheticals.  Although each accident was fairly minor, the recurrence of accidents contributed to Mr. Demidas’ ongoing symptoms.  However, those symptoms are not as severe as those in the cases cited to me by the plaintiff.  Considering the authorities presented to me, the injuries sustained in the four accidents, and adjusting the amount for the effects of the at-fault accident, I set non-pecuniary damages at $45,000.


$60,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Moderate, Chronic Soft Tissue Injuries

March 26th, 2012

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for soft tissue injuries caused by multiple collisions.

In last week’s case (Tait v. Dumansky) the Plaintiff was involved in three consecutive collisions. Ultimately the various Defendants admitted liability or were found liable at trial.  The 42 year old Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck, shoulder and back in the collisions.  These injuries remained symptomatic at the time of trial and were expected to continue in the future.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $60,000 Madam Justice Gerow provided the following reasons:

[37] In this case, all of the medical evidence is that Mr. Tait has suffered a moderate soft tissue injuries to his neck, shoulder and back. Although Mr. Tait’s symptoms have not completely resolved, and he still experiences flare-ups when he overexerts himself physically, the consensus amongst the medical experts is that Mr. Tait will likely have further improvement.

[38] Dr. Arthur, the defendants’ expert, opined on March 17, 2010, that Mr. Tait is partially disabled at this point, but should be able to get back to full duty and full hours. At trial, Dr. Arthur said he was of the opinion at that time that Mr. Tait should have been able to get back to full time duties in two to four months after he examined him if he carried out an active rehabilitation program. In cross-examination he explained that did not mean Mr. Tait would not have ongoing complaints after two to four months.

[39] Dr. Birch, Mr. Tait’s family doctor, provided an expert report and testified. In his report of July 25, 2011, Dr. Birch diagnosed Mr. Tait with muscle tension headaches and neck, shoulder, upper, mid and low back sprain and strain with significant muscle spasm. The injuries were caused by the 2007 accident and aggravated by the accidents in 2009 and 2010.  As of July 23, 2011, Mr. Tait was noted to be tender to palpation in both shoulders, upper, mid and low back bilaterally with some intermittent pain radiating down his right leg. The range of motion in Mr. Tait’s neck and low back were both moderately restricted in all directions. Although Dr. Birch expected some further improvement of Mr. Tait’s symptoms, his prognosis for full recovery is poor because of the number of injuries impacting the same area…

[46] In my view, the evidence establishes that Mr. Tait is suffering from ongoing symptoms of headaches, neck, shoulder and back pain as a result of the motor vehicle accidents. The evidence is that there has been ongoing improvement, with occasional flare-ups due to physical exertion, and that there should be additional improvement…

[51] Having considered the extent of the injuries, the fact that the symptoms are ongoing for four years with some improvement but with periods of exacerbation, the fact that the prognosis for full recovery is somewhat guarded, as well as the authorities I was provided, I am of the view that the appropriate award for non?pecuniary damages is $60,000.



"I'm Going To Sue You" Probably Not the Best Thing to Yell After a Crash

March 23rd, 2012

If the first thing out of a person’s mouth following a fender bender is “I’m going to sue” that likely won’t reflect all that well in a subsequent lawsuit.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing the issue of credibility and claims consciousness after such an utterance was made.

In this week’s case (Hussainyar v. Miller) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 collision.  It was a relatively minor accident.  He suffered legitimate injuries and ultimately was awarded damages.  Prior to doing so, however, the court had some critical comments to make about the Plaintiff’s credibility which were made in part due to his post collision behaviour.

Immediately following the crash the Plaintiff and his passenger exited the vehicle, walked towards the defendant and “yelled at her that they were injured and it was her fault and they were going to take her to court“.

Madam Justice Allan provided the following comments about the Plaintiff’s credibility:

[34] Mr. Hussainyar denied making an angry outburst at the scene of the accident that he and his girlfriend were injured and that it was the defendant’s fault and he would take her to court. I have no hesitation accepting Ms. Miller’s evidence that it occurred. That incident, illustrating the plaintiff’s focus on compensation, forms the context for an examination of Mr. Hussainyar’s credibility.  He was dishonest with Dr. Cimolai, Dr. Chu, and Mr. Brancati when he told them that his employer had gone out of business and omitted to tell them that he had been working part time for months.  I do not accept his evidence that he attended the gym on more occasions than his scanned entry card indicated.  Although he told Dr. Chu he could perform household chores, he testified that was a continuing problem.  Dr. Turnbull noted that the plaintiff’s range of motion was better when he was distracted…