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 July, 2016

$6 Million Damage Assessment After Teen Injured By Corroded Lamppost

July 21st, 2016

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for profound injuries after a plaintiff fell two stories after falling while swinging from a corroded lamp-post.

In this week’s case (Mackey v. British Columbia) the Court summarized the facts as follows

On March 31, 2007, when David Mackey was 17, he climbed onto a concrete baluster.  The baluster formed part of a railing along the perimeter of a pedestrian plaza at 812 Wharf Street, overlooking the waterfront, in Victoria.  On the baluster stood a lamp post.  It was about 6 feet tall.  David Mackey swung around the lamp post.  It was corroded to the core.  When David Mackey swung around it, the lamp post came loose.  It tottered, and he fell two storeys onto the concrete walkway below.  He suffered severe traumatic brain injury.

The Court found the injury caused profound disability and awarded damages assessing a lifetime of earnings and care totaling nearly $6 million.

The court reduced this amount by 65% to account for the Plaintiff’s contributory negligence.  In finding the Province 35% and the Plaintiff 65% for the incident Mr. Justice MacIntosh reasoned as follows:

[39]         From the evidence above, I reach the following conclusions.

[40]         The lamp post was severely corroded when David Mackey fell.  The lamp post had never been inspected or maintained to see that it was intact.  The annual painting did little or nothing to protect it because the corrosion was allowed to continue unchecked, both under the skirt and immediately above it.  Further, the skirt of the lamp post was never bolted to the baluster, which would have provided the necessary support.

[41]         But for the corroded state of the lamp post, and but for the skirt not having been bolted, I find that the accident probably would not have happened.  What probably happened was that as David Mackey was swinging around the lamp post, the lamp post came loose and gave way.  Probably, the lamp post coming loose and giving way caused David Mackey to fall to the concrete walkway below.  I adopt here what McLachlin C.J. wrote for the majority at paras. 9 and 10 in Clements v. Clements, [2012] 2 S.C.R. 181:

[9]        The “but for” causation test must be applied in a robust common sense fashion.  There is no need for scientific evidence of the precise contribution the defendant’s negligence made to the injury.  [Citations omitted.]

[10]      A common sense inference of “but for” causation from proof of negligence usually flows without difficulty.  Evidence connecting the breach of duty to the injury suffered may permit the judge, depending on the circumstances, to infer that the defendant’s negligence probably caused the loss. [Citations omitted.]

[42]         Also, however, it is obvious that but for David Mackey getting up on the baluster, and swinging around the lamp post, the accident would not have happened…

[60]         When applying the provisions of the two statutes, the Occupiers Liability Act and the Negligence Act, as they have been considered in Cempel, Bendzak, Sall andPaquette, cited above, I find the PCC to be 35% at fault and David Mackey to be 65% at fault for the accident.  David Mackey was nearly 18.  He mounted a safe railing where there was a dangerous drop below.  He had probably also heard Ms. Arner’s warning to Ryan Ramsay.  On the other hand, the PCC had neglected entirely the adequate, or indeed any, maintenance of the lamp post, apart from subcontracting an annual paint job.  The lamp post, on top of the railing, was its own accident waiting to happen.  As noted earlier, it could have been pushed over by a force of only 12.5 pounds.

$50,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for “Lingering” Soft Tissue Injury

July 19th, 2016

Adding to this site’s soft tissue injury non-pecuniary database, reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court,  Vancouver Registry, valuing a claim dealing with a ‘lingering‘ neck and shoulder soft tissue injury.

In today’s case (Lal v. Le) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2011 rear-end collision that the Defendant accepted blame for.  The Plaintiff suffered various soft tissue injuries the most serious of which involved his neck and shoulder and symptoms lingered to the time of trial.  Some long term symptoms were anticipated.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $50,000 Madam Justice Adair provided the following reasons:

[102]     Accordingly, I find that, as a result of the accident, Mr. Lal sustained soft tissue injuries to his neck, back, chest, elbow, leg and shin areas.  He also sustained ulnar nerve irritation symptoms, and experienced headaches as a result of his injuries.  Most of these injuries resolved over a few months.  However, the most serious injuries, a moderate soft tissue injury to his neck, and a moderate muscular strain in his right middle and lower back, did not.  As of April 2014, there continued to be objective signs of injury.  I find that, by April 2014, Mr. Lal had improved to the point that he was pain-free at times, although, with heavier and awkward work, he experienced symptoms in his neck and back, and also occasional headaches.  I find that these symptoms resulted from the injuries he suffered in the accident.  By October 2015, Mr. Lal’s mid-back injury had resolved.  However, I find that, as of trial, Mr. Lal continued to experience symptoms as a result of the injuries suffered in the accident, particularly symptoms in his neck.  He is likely to have some lingering neck and shoulder pain long-term, although the prognosis is more favourable that his back pain will fully resolve over the next year.

[103]     I find further that, as a result of the injuries Mr. Lal suffered in the accident, there is a risk that he will be unable long-term to work as a boilermaker, although he should be able to work full-time as an armored car driver.  In addition, I find that, as a result of the injuries suffered in the accident, Mr. Lal will be at increased risk of a work-related neck or back injury.  Given the physical nature of his employment, this is a real risk…

[110]     Considering Mr. Lal’s age and the other factors described above, and the cases cited to me, I conclude that an appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages is $50,000.

$50,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for “Persistent” Soft Tissue Injuries

July 6th, 2016

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for ‘persistent’ soft tissue injuries.

In today’s case (Smith v. Evashkevich) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2010 rear end collision that the Defendant admitted fault for.  The Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck and shoulder which persisted at the time of trial and were expected to continue into the future.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $50,000 Mr. Justice Steeves provide the following reasons:

[74]         Considering the expert evidence summarized above with the evidence at trial, I conclude that the plaintiff continues to have complaints of pain and stiffness in his neck, shoulders and back as a result of the June 2010 accident. This is supported by medical findings of tenderness on palpation. The plaintiff, his family and close friends also describe the plaintiff’s discomfort with his neck and shoulders.

[75]         These have always been soft-tissue symptoms, albeit persistent ones. The plaintiff was prescribed with a muscle relaxant on July 5, 2010 for the accident injuries. After that he has used over the counter medication.

[84]         In summary the plaintiff continues to suffer from soft tissue injuries in the neck, shoulder and back that can be causally related to the 2010 accident. While there are flare-ups he manages the symptoms well and he does not miss work as a result of them. He does not golf or snowboard like he did before the accident and he is more withdrawn in his relationships. There is some general anxiety as a result of the chronic nature of the plaintiff’s symptoms but anything more is related to his feeling of being overwhelmed at work.

[85]         In these circumstances I conclude an award of $50,000 for non-pecuniary damages is appropriate.