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 October, 2016

$85,000 Lumbar Facet Syndrome Non Pecuniary Award Survives Appeal

October 31st, 2016

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Court of Appeal dismissing the appeal of an $85,000 non-pecuniary award for a chronic low back injury.

In today’s case (Villing v. Husseni) the Plaintiff was injured in 2010 in a collision caused by the Defendant.  She suffered a low back injury diagnosed as Lumbar Facet Syndrome.  In finding nothing wrong with the trial judge’s $85,000 assessment of non-pecuniary damages the BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons:

[9]             Both parties commissioned expert reports on the nature of Ms. Villing’s injuries.  Dr. Pankaj Dhawan, a physiatrist, testified at trial for Ms. Villing.  Dr. Robin Rickards, an orthopaedic surgeon, testified for the defendant, Ms. Husseni.  Both experts diagnosed lumbar facet syndrome.  A patient with lumbar facet syndrome will often have pain triggered by rotation, lateral flexion, and extension of the involved spinal segment.  Ms. Villing experiences this type of chronic back pain.

[10]         Dr. Rickards recommended that she try medial branch blocks and radio frequency facet rhizotomy.  Medial branch blocks inject local anesthetic to temporarily freeze the nerve affecting the involved facet.  A rhizotomy involves the insertion of needle-like electrodes into the bases of the nerves of the involved facet, and the application of heat to destroy the subject nerves.  The rhizotomy would be performed if the medial branch blocks were successful.  These procedures would be performed under a local anesthetic in an outpatient department.  These procedures carry a high expectation of success, although success does not entail total and continuing relief.

[11]         A medial branch block requires no time off work.  A rhizotomy can be more uncomfortable and may result in increased back pain for 7‑10 days.  Time off work or work modification may be required.  In most cases, significant relief is experienced four to six weeks following treatment and the patient is expected to then return to full work duties and activities.

[40]         The appellant referred the Court to five decisions in support of its position that the $85,000 award for non‑pecuniary damages should be reduced to $50,000–$60,000.  Those cases were Engqvist v. Doyle, 2011 BCSC 1585 ($70,000 for a 70‑year-old plaintiff with similar injuries); Perry v. Ismail, 2012 BCSC 123 ($42,500 where there was delayed recovery for not following the advice of a physician); Burton v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2011 BCSC 653 ($35,000 for a moderate soft tissue injury, which after two-and-a-half years was expected to continue to improve); and Sandher v. Hogg, 2010 BCSC 1152 ($40,000 for continued pain of uncertain duration, which was reduced for failure to adhere to a recommended exercise regime).

[41]         The respondent referred the Court to cases where young plaintiffs suffer chronic back pain, such as: Dickenson v. Passero, 2015 BCSC 908 ($100,000); Pett v. Pett, 2009 BCCA 232 ($85,000); Ruscheinski v. BiIn, 2011 BCSC 1263 ($85,000); Doho v. Melnikova, 2011 BCSC 703 ($80,000); Roberts v. Scribner, 2009 BCSC 1761 ($95,000); and Kirkham v. Richardson, 2014 BCSC 1068 ($120,000).  The respondent also referred to Engqvist v. Doyle ($70,000) as a case involving a similar injury, albeit a much older plaintiff.

[42]         An award of damages is a fact-finding exercise and attracts a deferential standard of review:  Ostrikoff v. Oliveira, 2015 BCCA 351 at paras. 2–3.  It is not for this Court to substitute its own opinion for that of the trial judge except where it can be said that the assessment is so inordinately high as to be wholly erroneous: Woelk v. Halvorson at 435–36.  While the award in the present case may be a generous one, I am unable to conclude that it is so inordinately high as to be wholly erroneous.  I would dismiss the second ground of appeal.


Plaintiff Stripped of Trial Costs Following Judgement Below Settlement Offer

October 25th, 2016

Reasons for judgement were released today stripping a plaintiff of trial costs and further ordering the Plaintiff to pay the Defendants trial costs after failing to beat a defense formal settlement offer at trial.

In today’s case (Ben-Yosef v. Dasanjh) the Plaintiff was struck in 2011 by the Defendant’s vehicle while crossing a cross-walk.  The Plaintiff suffered from a pre-existing and longstanding chronic pain disorder.    The collision resulted in soft tissue injuries and aggravated the pre-existing condition.

Prior to trial ICBC offered to settle the claim for $70,000.  The Plaintiff declined this offer and proceeded to trial where damages of just over $32,000 were assessed.

In finding the pre trial offer reasonable and attaching costs consequences for failing to beat it Mr. Justice Bowden provided the following reasons:

[8]             The rules on costs are intended to encourage the early settlement of disputes by rewarding the party who makes a reasonable settlement offer and penalizing the party who declines to accept such an offer. (Hartshorne v. Hartshorne, (2011 BCCA 29)

[9]             In considering whether the offer to settle was one that ought reasonably to have been accepted the circumstances that existed at the time the offer was made should be considered rather than the award that was made using hindsight.

[10]         At the time the offer was made there is no suggestion that the plaintiff was not ready for trial. By that time examinations for discovery would have been completed and documents exchanged along with expert medical reports. In my view, the parties were in as good as a position as they would ever be to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of the case. (See the comments of Fleming J. in White v. Wang, 2015 BCSC 1080 at para. 10)

[11]         The plaintiff had four business days and a weekend to consider the offer of the defendants and presumably discussed the merits of accepting the offer with his counsel. The defendants’ offer was rejected and no counter-offer was made.

[12]         Fleming J. referred to comments by Griffin J. in Bevacqua v. Yaworski, 2013 BCSC 29, regarding the process at para. 8:

In personal injury claims, in which liability has been admitted, there is in most cases a somewhat predictable range of possible awards. It is to be expected that counsel taking a case to trial will have discussed with their clients the possible range of damages, the evidentiary issues and the risks of and expense of proceeding to trial. It is to be expected therefore that as the trial approaches, counsel and their client have in mind a possible range of recovery and the risks of litigating. Naturally, a plaintiff hopes for an award in the high end of the range and the defendant for an award at the low end.

[13]         In that case the plaintiff was deprived of costs when the defendant delivered an offer to settle on the eve of trial.

[14]         While I understand that the plaintiff attended his daughter’s wedding on the weekend following the making of the offer, there is no suggestion that the plaintiff and his counsel had any difficulty discussing the offer before it expired.

[15]         The offer by the defendants was more than twice the amount that was awarded to the plaintiff.

[16]         As to the relative financial circumstances of the parties other than understanding that the plaintiff has not been employed for some period of time there was no evidence upon which to determine what the financial impact of the cost award sought by the defendants would be on the plaintiff.

[17]         Having considered the factors mentioned and the circumstances of this case, I have concluded that the plaintiff should be deprived of costs from the date of the offer to settle by the defendants until the end of the trial and costs shall be awarded to the defendants for that period.

 


BC Supreme Court Outlines Parameters of Lay Witness Evidence from Doctors

October 17th, 2016

The line between opinion evidence and fact evidence when given by a physician is sometimes blurred.  Today reasons for judgement were released by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, discussing this and outlining the parameters of factual vs opinion evidence from treating physicians.

In today’s case (Cambie Surgeries Corporation v. British Columbia) the Defendant sought clarity about the scope of evidence from physicians.  In discussing these boundaries Mr. Justice Steeves provided the following reasons:

[10]         The treatment of that evidence is well established and has been usefully surveyed by Justice Metzger in a previous judgment (Seaman v. Crook, 2003 BCSC 464):

[14]      The cases Ares v. Venner, supra; Sandu and Brink, Olynyk v. Yeo, supra; Butler v. Latter, [1994] B.C.J. No. 2358 (B.C.S.C.), McTavish v. MacGillivray, supra; Coulter and Ball et al., 2002 BCSC 1740 (CanLII); and s. 42(2) which provides:

            In proceedings in which direct oral evidence of a fact would be admissible, a statement of a fact in a document is admissible as evidence of the fact if…

when taken together, stand for the following:

(1)  That the observations by the doctor are facts and admissible as such without further proof thereof.

(2)  That the treatments prescribed by the doctor are facts and admissible as such without further proof thereof.

(3)  That the statements made by the patient are admissible for the fact that they were made but not for their truth.

(4)  That the diagnoses made by the doctor are admissible for the fact that they were made but not for their truth.

(5)  That the diagnoses made by a person to whom the doctor had referred the patient are admissible for the fact that they were made but not for their truth.

(6)  That any statement by the patient or any third party that is not within the observation of the doctor or person who has a duty to record such observations in the ordinary course of business is not admissible for any purpose and will be ignored by the trier of fact. It is not necessary to expunge the statements from the clinical records as this is a judge alone trial.

[15]      Therefore any, and I emphasize the word “any”, opinions contained in the clinical records are not admissible for their truth. The opinions are admissible only for the fact that they were made at the time.

[16]      Without having met the requirements of Rule 40A, the oral testimony of the doctor interpreting his clinical records does not change the nature of the evidence contained in those clinical records. The clinical records remain evidence of the fact that he made those notes, made that diagnosis, and prescribed a certain treatment.

[17]      The opinions contained in the clinical records do not constitute independent stand-alone expert opinions. If they did, what would be the purpose of Rule 40A? It is the expert’s opinion that the court is weighing. It is the expert’s report that the court will accept or reject. It is not the opinion in the clinical records that the court is weighing.

[11]         As can be seen, much of this parallels the orders sought by the defendant, British Columbia. There is more to be said here, but I adopt the above summary by Justice Metzger. I add two other points.

[12]         First, the causation issue here relates to waiting for a medical procedure and a patient’s rights under s. 7 of the Charter, whether the latter was infringed by the former. I say this to distinguish causation here from causation on a medical chart that most frequently relates to whether a motor vehicle accident, for example, was of causative significance in a patient’s injury. This latter causation issue may be marginally relevant to the constitutional issues in this case.

[13]         This is also an appropriate place to address the plaintiffs’ submission that the Rules of Evidence cannot be used by the defendant British Columbia to require them to call every patient who has had a negative experience in the health care system in order to prove their case. I agree with that submission and point out that it is not the position of the defendant, British Columbia. What is required in this case, as with other cases, is counsel’s judgment as to the type and volume of evidence that is necessary to prove their client’s case.

[14]         A second category of evidence that arises here is evidence from a doctor, who is not certified as an expert, about his or her experience with waitlists: how long they have been, how a patient gets on a waitlist, any care issues that arise while the patient is on the waitlist and other related matters. I can see no impediment to the admissibility of evidence from doctors about their observations of how waitlists operate. This is part of the everyday experience of important actors in the health care system and it can be of value to the court. I note this is not opinion evidence about whether waiting times are medically justified or not justified. Such opinion evidence must come from a certified expert.

[15]         Another related category of evidence is also from a doctor, again not certified as an expert, who testifies about his or her observations as to a patient’s situation while waiting for a medical procedure. These observations can be about a patient being in pain, having restricted movements, not being at work, being anxious and/or depressed and other matters. I conclude that these observations are also admissible. In my view the character of these observations are the same as observations that could be made by a non-doctor. The fact that the witness is a doctor is relevant inasmuch as he or she may use medical language to describe his or her observations. But I see no difference for the purposes of admissibility with a non-doctor testifying about an accident where the victim was bleeding from the leg and a doctor saying the same victim was bleeding from the carotid artery.

[16]         I acknowledge there is an element of opinion in this type of evidence. However, it has been the case for some time that distinctions between fact and opinion can be tenuous and even false (Graat v. The Queen, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 819, at p. 15 (QL)). This development in the law of evidence has been applied in cases involving, for example, non-expert telecommunication workers describing how to determine the location of a cellphone (R. v. Hamilton, 2014 ONCA 339, at paras. 272-9) and a police officer testifying about his observations from years of experience about the operation of street level drug trafficking (R. v. Ballony-Reeder, 2001 BCCA 293, at para. 12).

[17]         In some cases this is called the “compendium statement of fact exception” to the usual requirement for expert opinions (Ganges Kangro Properties Ltd. v. Shepard, 2015 BCCA 522) and in other cases it is called “lay opinion evidence”, American Creek Resources Ltd. v. Teuton Resources Corp., 2013 BCSC 1042, at para. 142).

[18]         In any case I conclude that a doctor’s observations about his patient while waiting for a medical procedure or prior to being put on a waitlist, however that list is defined, are analogous to the accepted forms of this type of evidence in other cases. This includes identification of handwriting, identification of persons, identification of things; apparent age; the bodily plight or condition of a person, including illness; the emotional state of a person, whether distressed, angry and depressed; and other categories (Graat, at para. 46).

[19]         I also conclude that this type of evidence may be generalized to reflect the experience of a doctor over a period of time and experience with a number of patients in the same situation. Of course, at a certain point highly generalized evidence without sufficient particulars cannot be given significant weight. I have in mind here statements such as patients simply being “significantly disabled” or “in significant distress.” A doctor giving this type of evidence is subject to cross-examination, including questions about specific patients, and this might include details of their treatment.

[20]         There can also be some overlap between the issue of opinion evidence and issues of hearsay. As above, a doctor may well testify about his or her observations about patients waiting for a medical procedure. However, including in that evidence what a patient said can be problematic. This may be a fine line and it could result in the doctor disclosing the name of the patient and other information. Obviously in the case of the death of a declarant, the necessity component in the principled approach to hearsay has been met. Other than these general comments, I consider that the issue of hearsay will have to be considered on the basis of individual cases.

[21]         The plaintiffs rely on what they describe as the special relationship between doctors and patients, and this means that anything said in that relationship is admissible, including hearsay. This is described as “a very strong circumstantial guarantee of trustworthiness or indicia of reliability.” I do not doubt the special relationship between doctors and patients; however, there are other special relationships in society, such as parent/child and lawyer/client. There are constraints, legal and otherwise, on conversations in those relationships, but I am not aware of any authority that says that those conversations are not subject to the usual rules of admissibility of evidence in court. I see no basis for treating discussions between doctors and patients in the broad terms urged by the plaintiffs.

[22]         Turning to a fourth and perhaps final category of evidence here, the evidence may include evidence from a doctor, again not certified as an expert, who says a patient is experiencing a specific medical condition caused by waiting for a medical procedure.

[23]         In my view that is an issue that is at the heart of this litigation and ultimately for me to decide. There can be evidence on that issue that would certainly assist the court, but in my view it must be evidence in the form of an expert. To be clear, evidence on that issue or similar issues from a doctor testifying without being certified as an expert is not admissible. I take examples of this from the will-say statements that include a statement that wait times have a significant impact on the health outcomes and quality of life of patients or delayed treatment has a negative impact on the overall well-being of patients. Again, these conclusions are for the court to make based on admissible evidence including observations by physicians, expert reports and evidence from patients.

[24]         I close this discussion by saying, I have considered the trial and Supreme Court of Canada levels Chaoulli matter (Chaoulli v. Quebec (Attorney General), [2000] J.Q. No. 479, 2005 SCC 35). As urged by the plaintiff, I have treated those judgments as a guide to the issues here. I also note that the specific issues raised here were not raised or otherwise decided in Chaoulli (except for comments from the minority judges at the Supreme Court of Canada.) Here the issues are very clearly in dispute and they require consideration and resolution.

 


$70,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Low Back Injury

October 17th, 2016

Adding to this site’s archived posts of ICBC back injury claims reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry assessing damages for a chronic low back injury.

In today’s case (O’Brien v. Cernovec) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2011 T-bone intersection collision caused by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff sustained a variety of soft tissue injuries that resolved in short order however he was left with a chronic low back injury that continued to the time of trial and was expected to persistent indefinitely.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages t $70,000 Mr. Justice Pearlman provided the following reasons:

[93]         Here, the plaintiff has been consistent in reporting his symptoms and the progress of this recovery to each of the medical experts, and in his testimony at trial.  Mr. O’Brien readily acknowledged that he had recovered from the soft tissue injuries to his mid-back, shoulders, neck, legs, knees and wrists within two months of the accident.  I find that at trial the plaintiff did his best to provide an unembellished, matter-of- fact account of his injuries as he recalled them, and as they persist.  Drs. Adrian and Horlick both agreed that the plaintiff’s history, his description of the accident, their findings on physical examination and the results of the medical imaging are consistent with the plaintiff having sustained injuries, whether described as mechanical or myofascial, to the tissues of his lower back.  I am satisfied that Mr. O’Brien experiences the chronic low back pain he described in his testimony.

[94]         Since October 2012, Mr. O’Brien has completed all of his regular full-time shifts, occasionally with accommodations from his current employer or assistance from fellow employees.  However, as a result of his low back pain, he tires as the day progresses, experiences pain and discomfort, and sometimes struggles to complete his shifts. Mr. O’Brien no longer derives the same enjoyment from his work as he did before the accident.  He is a stoic who does his best to get on with and complete the work assigned to him.

[95]         I also take note of the fact that the plaintiff, while frequently turning down overtime, has worked 14 overtime shifts since August 1, 2015. The fact that the plaintiff has worked some overtime is consistent with the evidence that his symptoms fluctuate and that some work days are better than others.

[96]         I attach little weight to the fact that Mr. O’Brien has not used prescription painkillers, anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants since a month or so after they were last prescribed in late July 2012.  Mr. O’Brien prefers to limit his use of prescription medications.  Since the summer of 2012, he has used over-the-counter Advil and Tylenol to assist in managing flares in his low back pain. He copes with considerable discomfort in the workplace and does his best to fulfil the requirements of a physically demanding job.

[97]         The plaintiff has experienced frustration with his failure to make a full recovery from his injuries. His frustration at times leads him to withdraw into himself, and to limit his social contacts.

[98]         The plaintiff, at age 23, will probably continue to experience his persistent low back ache, intermittent numbness in his left leg, and flares of low back pain of varying intensity indefinitely, and with no significant improvement.  Fortunately, he is unlikely to suffer any progressive deterioration of his low back injury.

[99]         Mr. O’Brien is able to perform all housekeeping tasks, when asked.  However, chores such as mowing the lawn or cleaning his bathroom cause some discomfort and take longer than before the accident.  When Mr. O’Brien and Ms. Allison have their own home, the plaintiff’s responsibilities for housekeeping and home maintenance will increase.  He will experience discomfort and occasional pain in performing tasks that require prolonged bending or stooping.

[100]     Mr. O’Brien continues to take part in a range of recreational activities but participates in some at a lower level of intensity, and with less frequency than before the accident.  The plaintiff and Ms. Allison walk their dogs together and attend yoga classes.  Mr. O’Brien goes on lighter hikes but is unable, as a result of his persistent back pain, to join his friends on overnight treks.  Since the accident, he had played baseball and football occasionally.  While he is able to throw a ball, batting aggravates his back pain.  The plaintiff performs home-based stretching exercises four times a week and attends a gym where he works on both cardio exercises and core strengthening to alleviate his back pain.  He has attempted horseback riding, a favourite activity of Ms. Allison, but finds it aggravates his back pain.  On a recent trip to Ireland, he was able to ride a horse, at a walk, for 90 minutes, with considerable discomfort.  He has modified or reduced some activities in order to minimize his lower back pain.  When he and Ms. Allison watch television or a movie together, he will shift his sitting positions, and after 30 minutes or so will stand up and stretch in order to relieve discomfort from prolonged sitting.

[101]       As a result of the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff has suffered some diminution in his enjoyment of life.

[102]     The plaintiff’s mother corroborated his evidence that he is frustrated by his persistent symptoms of low back pain, and his lack of progress toward recovery.

[103]     While Mr. O’Brien’s still socializes with his friends, he does so less frequently than before the accident.  His mood declines when his pain flares.

[104]     Ms. Allison corroborated the plaintiff’s evidence that his symptoms vary, and that he has some bad days when he experiences significant pain.  On those occasions, the plaintiff becomes more reserved and withdrawn.  However, both the plaintiff and Ms. Allison confirmed that they have a committed relationship. 

[105]     The plaintiff continues to enjoy a close relationship with his family and with Ms. Allison. His injuries have not resulted in any significant impairment of his family and emotional relationships.

[106]     Taking into account the plaintiff’s particular circumstances, all of the Stapley factors, including the probability that Mr. O’Brien, at age 23, will continue to experience persistent low back discomfort and intermittent flares of pain indefinitely, and after considering all of the authorities cited by counsel, I assess damages for the plaintiff’s pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life in the amount of $70,000.


Motorist Found Fully At Fault For Crash Despite Being Rear-Ended

October 13th, 2016

Although it is the exception rather than the norm, when a motorist is rear-ended they can sometimes be found partly if not fully at fault for a collision.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, with such an outcome.

In today’s case (Bingul v. Youngson) the Plaintiff was rear-ended by a dump-truck driven by the Defendant.  The parties had different versions of how the collision occurred but the Court noted concerns with the Plaintiff’s credibility and accepted the Defendant’s testimony.  The court found that the Plaintiff abruptly moved into the lane of traffic occupied by the Defendant when it was unsafe to do so, namely when he was stopping for an intersection up ahead.  In finding the Plaintiff fully at fault and dismissing the claim Madam Justice Baker provided the following reasons:

[53]         Having considered these and other matters relevant to credibility, and taking into account the testimony of Mr. Tupper, which supports the testimony of Mr. Youngson, I conclude that I must and do prefer the evidence of Mr. Youngson about the circumstances of the accident.  I conclude that Mr. Youngson has provided an explanation for the collision − the sudden and unexpected lane change made by Mr. Bingul − that negatives the prima facie assumption of liability on the following driver.

[54]         I am unable to conclude that anything done or not done by Mr. Youngson constituted negligence that caused or contributed to the collision.  Mr. Youngson testified that as he was approaching the intersection with Clark Drive he anticipated having to bring his vehicle to a stop for a red light.  He braked and down-shifted and reduced his speed to 30 to 35 kph as he approached the intersection.  He testified that had Mr. Bingul not suddenly moved into his lane ahead of him, he would have able to bring his vehicle to a complete stop at or before the stop line, but that Mr. Bingul’s move reduced his stopping distance to an unsafe degree.

[55]         Mr. Bingul was aware that there was a large and heavy vehicle in the lane.  I conclude that it was solely Mr. Bingul’s sudden and negligent move into the lane of travel of Mr. Youngson’s large and heavy vehicle that created the risk of collision and resulted in the accident.

[56]         I therefore dismiss the plaintiff’s claims against all defendants.


$90,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Lumbar Facet Joint Syndrome

October 12th, 2016

Adding to this site’s archived posts of ICBC back injury claims, reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for a chronic, partly disabling back injury.

In today’s case (Klein v. Sangha) the Plaintiff was injured in 2 collisions.  Fault was admitted and the trial focused solely on the quantum of the Plaintiff’s claim.  In finding the collisions resulted in a lumbar facet joint injury giving rise to chronic pain the Court provided the following reasons in assessing non-pecuniary damages at $90,000 –

[51]         It is clear on the medical evidence, particularly Dr. Rickards’ evidence, that Mr. Klein probably suffered Lumbar Facet Joint Syndrome as a result of the first accident and that, as a 39 year old male who had suffered “some” degenerative disc disease to his cervical back area, he was susceptible to such an injury…

[57]         Considering the inexhaustive list of common factors influencing an award of non-pecuniary damages referred to above, I note the following factors are particularly applicable:

(a)      The age of the plaintiff. Mr. Klein was in his late thirties at the time of the first accident in a well-established occupation which provided financial and personal satisfaction to him. But for the accident, Mr. Klein would have had many more years of job satisfaction.

(b)      The nature of the injury. Mr. Klein’s injury, specifically to his spine, affects all aspects of life including work, play, sleep and everyday chores.

(c)      The severity of pain. Mr. Klein’s pain has left him bed-ridden for prolonged periods of time, interfered with his graduated return to work and led to much pain and frustration over four years.

(d)      The disability. Mr. Klein’s disability meant he could only return to work on a part-time basis before the second accident. He has only been able to undertake some of the tasks he was able to complete before the accident and only with resulting pain.

(h)      Impairment of physical abilities. This is obvious from Mr. Klein’s evidence and Dr. Rickards’ report.

(i)       Loss of lifestyle. Mr. Klein is no longer able to participate in sporting activities, except for a very short period of time. He cannot continue his chosen line of work which gave him great satisfaction in the past, i.e. working with his hands. He has suffered loss of sleep and cannot maintain a home without assistance. He now relies on friends for help whereas he was previously very independent. He has expressed considerable frustration in spite of his efforts to improve including physiotherapy, exercise, acupuncture and more. Nonetheless, he has been told to expand his efforts at establishing an exercise program.

(j)       The plaintiff’s stoicism. Mr. Klein has exemplified stoicism by attempting to return to work, to establish and restore a construction business  in a modified scenario from his pre-accident work and to continue to support his daughter who was suffering from depression while Mr. Klein was dealing with his injuries. Every aspect of his life has been affected by his injuries…

[62]         Mr. Klein expressed considerable frustration at his inability to function at work and in all other aspects of his life. I found his evidence in this respect to be credible. He also thinks, quite reasonably, considering his experiences since the accident, that he will likely be affected by the injuries for a considerable time to come.

[63]         I have also considered Dr. Rickards’ evidence about a rehabilitation program he proposed to Mr. Klein to minimize or possibly overcome the effect of his injuries. I have considered his injuries to date and the likelihood that he may never totally recover from them in the above assessment of non-pecuniary damages. Considering all of the evidence and authorities, I find an appropriate award of non-pecuniary damages to be $90,000.


Announcing MacIsaac & Company’s new Distracted Driving Campaign

October 11th, 2016

macisaac-co-distracted-driving-billboard

 

I try to keep the commercial messages in this website to a minimum but wanted to quickly break tradition to announce my firm’s anti Distracted Driving Campaign.

Simply titled “we sue distracted drivers” the message is clear, simple and to the point.

Between web and more traditional avenues such as billboards and bus ads I hope the message that distracted driving comes with consequences is loud and clear.

You can visit the new website here.


Responding Expert Reports Must Be Tendered in Party’s Case in Chief

October 4th, 2016

Interesting procedural reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing when a party must tender responding expert reports.

In today’s case (Cambie Surgeries Corporation v. British Columbia) the Plaintiffs sought to tender their responding expert reports after the Defendant tendered their expert reports. The Defendant objected noting the reports should properly be admitted as part of the Plaintiff’s case in chief.  In agreeing with the Defendant Mr. Justice Steeves provided the following reasons:

[9]             It seems to me that the Rules are intended to promote efficiency in a trial. Historically, expert opinion evidence was given simply by a notice, as described in Abell v. British Columbia (Greater Nanaimo Water District), 1979 CanLII 657 (BC SC), but now there are strict requirements. With respect to reply reports, they are intended to avoid parties putting in reply reports at trial for the first time. Here the plaintiffs’ position would not bring back that situation entirely; however, it would at least open up the risk of sur-reply expert reports, thus possibly lengthening these proceedings.

[10]         Overall I conclude that, while it is always open to a party to apply to apply to call rebuttal evidence, a responding expert under the Rules is quite a different part of a trial. In short, a responding expert report is not rebuttal evidence in the usual sense of being in response to unanticipated evidence. In my view, as with all anticipated evidence, the plaintiffs must call and exhaust their evidence. This is paraphrasing of the judgement in Commercial Electronics v. Savics, 2011 BCSC 162. The plaintiffs will examine their expert witnesses about their reports, including responding reports as part of their case.