March 29th, 2017
I have spent much time documenting judicial treatment of the so-called ‘low velocity impact’ defence. In short, courts routinely accept motorists can be injured in low velocity collisions. Despite this, courts occasionally dismiss an injury claim involving modest forces. Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Chilliwack Registry, with such an outcome.
In today’s case (Sandhu v. Raveendran) the Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her husband which was involved in a parking lot collision with another vehicle with the Court noting “the contact between two vehicles was relatively superficial”.
The Plaintiff alleged injury. The Court rejected this noting that “ I find a lack of convincing evidence that this minor, slow-moving parking lot accident caused the plaintiff any compensable injury“.
In dismissing her injury claim Mr. Justice Brown provided the following reasons:
 I will now discuss the evidence and state my findings:
1. The Chevrolet was stationary at impact.
2. The defendant, Mr. Raveendran, started the Honda. He took his foot off the brake. The tires slowly completed their circumference, two to three turns of its tires, before the right side of the Honda contacted the left driver-side door of the Chevrolet.
3. The vehicles were at a slight angle on impact.
4. The point of impact was not bumper to bumper. There is no indication the solid substructures of the vehicles were involved. The visible damage was not deeply intrusive into the bodies of the vehicles; a fairly shallow dent of the surface of the driver’s door of the Chevrolet and some surface scraping of the right rear panel and leading edge of the bumper on the Honda is all that is noteworthy.
5. The plaintiff relied on the fact that the cost of repairing the Honda was $1,200 and the Chevrolet, written off, $1,500. Considering the cost of vehicle repairs generally, these figures do not denote significant impacts, rather, more likely, in my opinion, the costs of materials and labour for prepping, taping, sanding, painting, et cetera. There is no indication of parts replacement or significant structural damage requiring repair.
6. There is no evidence either vehicle was moved from its path or static position, or moved about by the impact.
7. The plaintiff complained only of a jolt, the nature of which she had difficulty explaining, but she denied her body came into contact with the interior of the car or that she was moved about.
8. The video surveillance segments, viewed in congress with the photographs of the vehicle damages, which the court viewed in the range of 10 times, convey a strong impression of a very minor impact, most unlikely to cause injuries, let alone ones requiring a recovery period of three to four years.
9. The plaintiff had recovered from the injuries related to her previous accident.
10. The plaintiff reported immediate onset of symptoms, but instead of reporting to Dr. Kaler’s office about 100 feet away, or to the hospital, drove to the ICBC Claim Centre to report the Accident.
11. The plaintiff submits the fact she attended physiotherapy sessions after the birth of her child argues against invented symptoms. But as I mentioned earlier, there is no evidence showing for what reasons she attended the clinics, the nature of the treatments, the symptoms reported or observations made. Dr. Kaler had clinically noted concerns of morbid obesity; and, as the plaintiff granted, giving birth to a child can cause physical problems. I cannot find a link between the need for physiotherapy and the alleged trauma.
12. As for depression, Dr. Kaler’s evidence shows the plaintiff earlier had been concerned about becoming pregnant again. The basis for linking this minor accident to alleged depression, say, stemming from a chronic pain syndrome, is not present. There is no diagnosis of chronic pain, for example, to generate a logical medical link between physical trauma and depression usually seen the cases.
13. It is not plausible, and there is no persuasive medical legal evidence to show, that it would take the plaintiff three years to recover from trauma allegedly caused by the very modest forces involved in this parking accident.
 Of course, parking lot collisions may cause significant vehicle damage and some bodily injury especially when one or both parties are driving too fast. This is not one of those cases. One car was standing still, the other rolling slowly backwards.
 The plaintiff presented as a pleasant person. Her counsel submitted she was a good witness because, in effect, she stood her ground and insisted she had been injured; but that ground was also populated with many responses of not knowing and not recalling events. As for the mechanics of the injury, when impartial senses contradict what a witness with a vested interest says happened, as in this case, the former, depending on the all the circumstances, should hold greater sway.
 In Butler v. Blaylock Estate,  B.C.J. No. 31 (S.C.), McEachern C.J. stated at paras. 18-19:
 I am not stating any new principles when I say that the Court should be exceedingly careful when there is little or no objective evidence of continuing injury, and when complaints of pain persist for long periods extending beyond the normal or usual recovery period.
 An injured person is entitled to be fully and properly compensated for any injury or disability caused by a wrongdoer. But no one can expect his fellow citizen or citizens to compensate him in the absence of convincing evidence — which could be just his own evidence if the surrounding circumstances are consistent — that his complaints of pain are true reflections of a continuing injury.
 In this case, I find a lack of convincing evidence that this minor, slow-moving parking lot accident caused the plaintiff any compensable injury. Accordingly, the plaintiff’s claims for damages are dismissed with costs.