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 the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

ICBC’s “Meat Chart” Crashes In the BC Supreme Court

February 14th, 2019

Earlier this year ICBC instructed its staff to ignore the law when valuing cases and instead make offers based on an internal injury ‘meat chart’.  The result is cases not settling and going to trial.

The first wave of these has now hit the courts and the judiciary seems none too impressed by ICBC and their ‘institutional’ tactics.

In reasons for judgment released today (Tsai v. Murdoch) ICBC was harshly criticized.  The Plaintiff was injured and sought to settle her case.  ICBC declined and made a low settlement offer subject to their ‘meat chart’ guidelines. The plaintiff sensibly rejected the offer and went to trial where damages were assessed under the law and resulted in an award greater than what she was prepared to settle for.

The Court went on to award the plaintiff double costs for ICBC’s tactics and criticized their new approach.  In doing so Madam Justice Sharma provided the following reasons:

[71]         This is the type of case that was ripe for settlement, as demonstrated by the small difference between the plaintiff’s offer and the award made. I was informed the defendant had made a settlement offer, but withdrew it for “institutional” reasons. Whatever “institutional” reasons are they do not protect in any way a litigant from bearing the consequences of its choices in the litigation.  Were it in my power to award more in costs in favour of the plaintiff I would have done so. This case did not need to occupy the court’s time at the expense to the taxpayer. It should have been settled.


What Dumpster Fire? ICBC Spokesman Says Corporation in Fine Financial Shape

February 14th, 2019

Remember the Dumpster Fire?  The powerful image painted by BC’s Attorney General used to persuade the public that it is necessary for the government to strip the rights of British Columbians in order to keep ICBC healthy?  Turns out ICBC themselves say they are in fine financial shape and can meet all of their existing obligations without concern.

ICBC has Billions in assets.  Billions.  In addition to this, according to ICBC Spokesman Adam Grossman, ICBC is cash solvent and collects enough in premiums and investment income to meet their obligations.

The following quote was attributed to Grossman by the Vancouver Sun’s Rob Shaw:

““We disagree with Mr. McCandless’ position — ICBC is not insolvent….In addition to the reserves and portfolio referenced above, we are still generating sufficient cash flows from premium revenue and investment income, allowing us to meet our current obligations — this is the key point and we are not, therefore, being backstopped by government.

Government has implemented a host of legal changes stripping the rights of British Columbians to douse the so-called dumpster fire.  ICBC has not realized any savings yet from these changes as they largely have not kicked in yet.  If ICBC can meet all current obligations why the “minor” injury caps?  Why the discrimination to people suffering psychological disability?  Why the forced tribunal and stripped judicial rights?  Why the limit on expert witnesses plaintiffs can use when appearing in court? If there was no dumpster fire to put out it looks like British Columbians just got hosed.

 


BC Caps Expert Reports in Motor Vehicle Litigation

February 11th, 2019

Update – The full text of the amended rules have been published.  These read as follows –

RULE 11-8 – EXPERTS IN VEHICLE ACTIONS
Definition
(1) In this rule, “vehicle action” means an action that includes a claim for damages for
personal injury, or death, that arises out of the use or operation of a vehicle as defined
in the Motor Vehicle Act.
Conflict
(2) This rule applies in the event of a conflict between this rule and another rule of these
Supreme Court Civil Rules, other than Rule 15-1.
Limitation on expert opinion evidence
(3) Except as provided under this rule, a party to a vehicle action may tender, at trial, only
the following as expert opinion evidence on the issue of damages arising from
personal injury or death:
(a) expert opinion evidence of up to 3 experts;
(b) one report from each expert referred to in paragraph (a).
Additional experts and reports by consent
(4) If all the parties to a vehicle action consent,
(a) the parties may tender expert opinion evidence of one or more additional
joint experts, appointed in accordance with Rule 11-3, in excess of the limit
set out in subrule (3) (a), or
(b) a party may tender as evidence one or more additional reports from an
expert referred to in subrule (3) (a), in excess of the limit set out in
subrule (3) (b).
page 3 of 5
Additional experts and reports by application
(5) On application by a party to a vehicle action, the court may do any of the following if
the court is satisfied that it would further the object of these Supreme Court Civil
Rules:
(a) provide for expert opinion evidence of one or more additional experts, in
excess of the limit set out in subrule (3) (a), by
(i) ordering the parties to appoint a joint expert in accordance with Rule
11-3, or
(ii) appointing an expert under Rule 11-5;
(b) allow the party to tender as evidence one or more additional reports from an
expert referred to in subrule (3) (a), in excess of the limit set out in
subrule (3) (b).
Allowable responding reports
(6) The limits set out in subrule (3) do not apply to an expert or expert’s report, if a party
serves the expert’s report under Rule 11-6 (4) to respond to a report that was served
on the party within 126 days before the scheduled trial date.
Allowable supplementary reports
(7) The limit set out in subrule (3) (b) does not apply to a supplementary report required
under Rule 11-6 (5) or (6).
Limitation on disbursements for expert evidence
(8) In a vehicle action, only the following amounts may be allowed or awarded to a party
as disbursements for expert opinion evidence on the issue of damages arising from
personal injury or death:
(a) the amount incurred by the party for up to 3 expert reports, whether or not
the reports were tendered at trial, provided that each report was
(i) served in accordance with these Supreme Court Civil Rules, and
(ii) prepared by a different expert;
(b) the amount incurred by the party for
(i) a report allowed under subrule (4) or (5),
(ii) a report referred to in subrule (6) or (7), or
(iii) a report prepared by an expert appointed by the court under
Rule 11-5 (1);
(c) the amount incurred by the party for an expert to give testimony at trial in
relation to a report, referred to in paragraph (a) or (b), that was prepared by
the expert.
page 4 of 5
Appointment of experts on initiative of the court
(9) Nothing in this rule prevents the court from appointing an expert on its own initiative
under Rule 11-5 (1).
Transition – application of rule
(10) Subject to subrule (11), this rule applies to all vehicle actions, whether or not a notice
of claim for the vehicle action was filed before the coming into force of this rule.
Transition – exceptions for existing vehicle actions
(11) The following exceptions apply in relation to a vehicle action for which a notice of
claim was filed before the coming into force of this subrule:
(a) the limits set out in subrule (3) do not apply to any report of an expert that
was served in accordance with these Supreme Court Civil Rules before the
coming into force of this subrule;
(b) the limits set out in subrule (8) do not apply to amounts that were
necessarily or properly incurred for expert opinion evidence before the
coming into force of this subrule.
5 Rule 15-1 is amended by adding the following subrule:
Application of Rule 11-8
(12.1) In a fast track action,
(a) Rule 11-8 (3) (a) is to be read as if the reference to “3 experts” were a
reference to “one expert”, and
(b) Rule 11-8 (8) (a) is to be read as follows:
(a) the amount incurred by the party for one expert report, whether or not
the report was tendered at trial, provided that the report was served in
accordance with these Supreme Court Civil Rules; .
SCHEDULE 2
1 Rule 9-7 (7.1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules, B.C. Reg. 168/2009, is amended by
striking out “in relation to a vehicle action referred to in that rule”.
2 The heading to Rule 11-8 is repealed and the following substituted:
RULE 11-8 – EXPERT OPINION EVIDENCE ON DAMAGES FOR PERSONAL
INJURY OR DEATH .
3 Rule 11-8 (3) is amended by striking out “to a vehicle action” and substituting “in an
action”.
4 Rule 11-8 (4) is amended by striking out “to a vehicle action”.
5 Rule 11-8 (5) is amended by striking out “to a vehicle action”.
page 5 of 5
6 Rule 11-8 (8) is amended by striking out “In a vehicle action” and substituting “In an
action”.
7 Rule 11-8 (10) is repealed and the following substituted:
Transition – application of rule
(10) Subject to subrules (11) and (12), this rule applies to all actions, whether or not a
notice of claim for the action was filed before the coming into force of this rule.
8 Rule 11-8 is amended by adding the following subrule:
Transition – exceptions for existing actions, other than vehicle actions
(12) The following exceptions apply in relation to an action, other than a vehicle action, for
which a notice of claim was filed before February 1, 2020:
(a) the limits set out in subrule (3) do not apply to any report of an expert that
was served in accordance with these Supreme Court Civil Rules before
February 1, 2020;
(b) the limits set out in subrule (8) do not apply to amounts that were
necessarily or properly incurred for expert opinion evidence before
February 1, 2020.

_______________________________________

Today BC’s Attorney General announced changes to the BC Supreme Court Rules which will limit how many expert witnesses litigants can use when prosecuting a personal injury lawsuit arising from a motor vehicle collision.

While the exact wording of the changes is not yet known the BC Government provided the following details in a press release this morning:

The proposed amendments will limit the number of experts and expert reports permitted to address the issue of damages, such as wage loss, future wage loss and future care that can be used by each side of a motor vehicle dispute. Parties will be able to use one expert and report for fast-track claims (e.g., less than $100,000), and up to three experts and reports for all other claims. However, the judiciary will be able to permit additional court-appointed or joint experts at its discretion.

These amendments will come into effect immediately upon deposit for motor vehicle-related actions. They will also apply to all personal injury claims as of Feb. 1, 2020, subject to the further analysis and consultation that the ministry plans to undertake. More information will be available in the coming weeks.

I will update this article with the actual rule changes once these are published.

While the limits on experts apply equally to both sides it is worth noting that if a plaintiff fails to call treating physicians ICBC can ask the court to draw an ‘adverse inference‘.  Plaintiff’s rarely enjoy this luxury unless ICBC hires an expert and then chooses not to disclose the report generated from the assessment.  Plaintiffs will be faced with the difficult choice of deciding whether to come to court with treating doctors (who often want nothing to do with litigation) vs doctors retained for medic0-legal purposes.  Defendants will not have to struggle with such a choice.


ICBC’s Secret “Meat Chart” for Pain and Suffering and the Actual Law

January 16th, 2019

As reported last week by the Vancouver Sun, ICBC’s top brass have handed out directives to all adjusters to withdraw settlement offers on existing claims and re-assess claims not by the law but by an internal meat chart.

Details of this secret memo are slowly coming to light and it appears ICBC has created 5 different categories for non-pecuniary damage assessment.  The first three deal with soft tissue injuries, the fourth with more serious injuries and the last with what ICBC deems to be catastrophic injuries.

I have not yet had the privilege of seeing ICBC’s full memo to their adjusters (who have been instructed to keep the details secret) but sources tell me that ICBC will be valuing pain and suffering by completely artificial criteria which run contrary to well established law.  If and when full details of ICBC’s new policy are shared with me I will gladly publish them.

In the meantime, if you are being told that your claim is worth an artificially small amount based on ICBC’s internal assessment please know your rights.  It is well established that non-pecuniary damages are assessed individually on a case by case basis using the following non-exhaustive list of factors.  If ICBC is not prepared to use these you can be confident BC courts will –

a)     age of the plaintiff;

b)     nature of the injury;

c)     severity and duration of pain;

d)     disability;

e)     emotional suffering; and

f)       loss or impairment of life;

g)     impairment of family, marital and social relationships;

h)     impairment of physical and mental abilities;

i)       loss of lifestyle; and

j)       the plaintiff’s stoicism (as a factor that should not, generally speaking, penalize the plaintiff: Giang v. Clayton, [2005] B.C.J. No. 163, 2005 BCCA 54).


“Standard of Perfection” Not Needed for Victims of Hit and Run Collisions

January 3rd, 2019

Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, canvassing what steps are adequate for a hit and run collision victim to take in ascertaining the identify of the offending motorist before they can successfully make a claim under s. 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.

In today’s case (Ghuman v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was struck by a vehicle that fled the scene shortly after impact.  The Plaintiff’s wife was in a separate vehicle nearby but did not notice the collision.  The Plaintiff drove away from the scene and did not find any other witnesses.  The Plaintiff sued ICBC as nominal Defendant in the place of the at fault motorist under s. 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.

ICBC argued the plaintiff should not be compensated for his injuries as he failed to take all reasonable efforts in identifying the offending motorist.  Madam Justice Donegan rejected this argument finding a standard of perfection is not required under the legislation and that the plaintiff acted reasonably in the circumstances.  In addressing the required standard for victims of hit and run collisions the Court noted as follows:

[62]         Overall, I find the plaintiff acted reasonably at the time of the Collision and its immediate aftermath, but was unable to obtain the required information. The driver of the SUV immediately fled the scene. The lead vehicle left quickly as well. There were no other potential witnesses in the area of the Collision, other than perhaps Mr. Ghuman’s wife, but she was unaware the Collision even occurred. In these circumstances, I think a reasonable person would believe this low-impact accident was not so obvious that others in the area would have even seen it, let alone observed details of the offending vehicle in the seconds before it fled the area.

[63]         However, as the case authorities make clear, the requirement to make all reasonable efforts to ascertain the identity of the other driver and owner is not limited to the immediate aftermath of the Collision. Mr. Ghuman must be found to have also made all reasonable efforts to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver and owner in the days and weeks that followed.

[64]         In those days and weeks, Mr. Ghuman took several steps to try and ascertain the identity of the SUV, its driver or owner.

[65]         He called police the following day and gave them all of the information he had. He also reported the Collision to ICBC the following day and followed up with the written claim form a few days later.

[66]         Within a week of the Collision, Mr. Ghuman posted flyers seeking witnesses around the intersection where the Collision occurred. He retained counsel shortly thereafter to protect his interests and within about a month of the Collision, his counsel arranged for more signs seeking witnesses to be posted around the intersection and for an advertisement seeking witnesses to run for a week in the local newspaper.

[67]         None of the above efforts generated any witnesses to the Collision or any information that might have led to the identity of the SUV, its driver and owner.

[68]         ICBC identifies two steps that Mr. Ghuman did not take in the days and weeks following the Collision as a basis for finding that Mr. Ghuman did not make all reasonable efforts. It points to Mr. Ghuman’s failure to follow up with police and his failure to canvass business in the Strawberry Hill complex for potential video recordings or records of witnesses who may have come forward to those businesses.

[69]         I agree with the observations of Justice DeWitt-Van Oosten in Rieveley that there are often other steps that a plaintiff could have taken in particular circumstances, but that s. 24(5) of the Act does not demand that a plaintiff make every conceivable effort to show it was not possible to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver or owner. Rather, what is required is that a “plaintiff act reasonably in light of surrounding circumstances, including the information known to him or her at the material time”: Rieveley at paras. 36-37.

[70]         Mr. Ghuman did not follow up with police following his initial call because he reasonably believed police would not investigate the Collision and/or that any investigation would be fruitless. Mr. Ghuman reported the Collision to police because he understood that the law obliged him to, but given the circumstances of the Collision and the presence of only very generic information about the SUV, Mr. Ghuman’s belief that police would not investigate or such an investigation would be fruitless is reasonable. I accept there was little benefit in following up with the Surrey RCMP in these circumstances. To do so would be highly unlikely to produce any results.

[71]         Mr. Ghuman did not check with businesses near the area for video surveillance and/or records of witnesses who may have come forward because he relied on another person, his wife, who told him that she was making some of those efforts. Not admissible for the truth that those steps were actually taken, Mr. Ghuman’s belief that some of those steps were being done does provide a reasonable explanation why he did not undertake them himself.

[72]         I wish to make it very clear that there is no admissible evidence before me that those efforts (canvassing for video surveillance and/or seeking records of potential witnesses that may have come forward to nearby businesses) were made. However, in the circumstances of this case, I would not consider such extensive efforts necessary in order for this plaintiff to comply with s. 24(5). Given the distances of the surrounding businesses from the Collision site and the layout of the area, I accept there would have been little benefit in contacting businesses for video surveillance and/or records of people who may have come forward to those businesses. Such efforts would be highly unlikely to produce any results.

[73]         In the end, Mr. Ghuman is not to be held to the standard of perfection. Even if the timing of his telephone call to police and his lack of follow up with police could be viewed as something less than reasonable in and of themselves, I agree with the plaintiff that what is reasonable in all of the circumstances of one case does not rise and fall on a single effort. What sets this case apart from other cases provided is that Mr. Ghuman was faced with a driver who immediately fled the scene of a low impact type of accident in an area with transient traffic, surrounded by parking lots. Despite these obvious limitations in obtaining information regarding that vehicle’s identity, Mr. Ghuman nevertheless chose to take several positive steps to investigate. He was proactive from the outset. That he was unsuccessful is of no consequence. All that is required is that he take all reasonable steps to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver and owner of the SUV. I find that he did in the circumstances of this case.

[74]         For all of these reasons, I find the plaintiff has met the onus upon him to establish that he made all reasonable efforts to ascertain the identity of the SUV’s owner and driver under s. 24(5) of the Act and that the identity of the unknown owner and driver of the SUV is not ascertainable. Accordingly, ICBC is appropriately named as the nominal defendant to this action and liability is found against ICBC.


Lawsuit Against Expert Witness Dismissed on Grounds of Witness Immunity

January 2nd, 2019

In British Columbia expert witnesses in litigation are granted a broad immunity in cases where they are alleged to be negligent or otherwise provide less than adequate services when testifying.  Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, applying this principle in dismissing a lawsuit against an expert witness.

In today’s case (Owimar v. Warnett) the Plaintiff was involved in several collisions and sued for damages.  In the course of the lawsuits the Defendants retained a physician who “examined the plaintiff three times, provided five medical reports from 2003 to 2013 and testified in court“.

The Plaintiff sued the Doctor and the defence counsel that retained him alleging “various kinds of fraud and negligence in their respective capacities as defence counsel and expert witness and claims that they substituted his lumbar spine x-ray taken in November 1996 with an x-ray that would disprove his claims of being injured in the MVAs.“.

The lawsuits were dismissed for various grounds with the Court noting that “the allegations advanced by the plaintiff are nothing more than wild speculation.“.  Additionally, one of the reasons dismissing the claim against the expert witness was the principle of witness immunity.  In triggering and applying this doctrine Madam Justice Murray provided the following comments:

[34]         With regard to Dr. McGraw I am satisfied that the doctrine of witness immunity applies. Under that doctrine witnesses are immune from civil liability. In addition as for expert witnesses the doctrine applies to anything they say in court as well as pre-trial activities including assessments and reports: P.(J.) v. Eirikson, 2015 BCSC 847 at paras. 21 and 25.

[35]         Our Court of Appeal recently confirmed that a professional witness who gives evidence in court is protected from civil action in 311165 BC Ltd v. Canada (A.G.), 2017 BCCA 196:

[50] It must be kept in mind that the immunities from suit that prevent claims based on evidence given in court and on bringing litigation are broad in order to protect the justice system. Witnesses should not be dissuaded from giving evidence or fettered in what they tell a court by the fear that an aggrieved person will sue them. Prosecutorial decisions must be allowed to be made in an atmosphere that is free from the chilling effects of potential civil liability. Access to the courts must not be impeded by leaving litigants in fear of being open to lawsuits brought in retaliation.

[36]         As a result of the witness immunity defence I am satisfied that the plaintiff’s allegations against Dr. McGraw will fail. Accordingly there is no genuine issue to be tried and the claim must be dismissed under Rule 9-6(5)(a).

[37]         In conclusion, having considered all of the evidence and all of the submissions I am satisfied that the action against the defendants must be dismissed as it offends Rule 9-5(1). In the alternative I am satisfied for the reasons above that the action against the defendants must be dismissed under Rule 9-6.


BC Court of Appeal – A Sandbar is Not a Highway

December 21st, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Court of Appeal dismissing an unidentified motorist injury claim on the basis that the collision occurred on a sandbar which is not a ‘highway’ which is a condition to such a claim succeeding.

In today’s case (Adam v. ICBC) the Plaintiff suffered injuries when struck by an unidentified motorist while on a sandbar that people used to camp and fish from along the Fraser River.  The Plaintiff sued ICBC under s. 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.  At trial the Plaintiff was successful but ICBC appealed arguing that a s. 24 claim could not succeed in these circumstances as a sandbar is not a highway and a crash has to occur on a highway for s. 24 to be triggered.  The BC Court of Appeal agreed and provided the following reasons:

[91]         In summary, none of the means of becoming a highway as required by paragraphs (a) to (g) of the Transportation Act definition apply to the sandbar. Nor is the sandbar a “highway” within the meaning of paragraph (b) or (c) of the Motor Vehicle Act definition. I therefore conclude the judge erred in finding the sandbar is a “highway” within the meaning of s. 24 of the IVA.


$12,000 For Medical Cannabis Awarded to Crash Victim With Chronic Pain

December 4th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, awarding damages, including a $12,000 future care award for the cost of medical cannabis, to a collision victim.

In today’s case (Carrillo v. Deschutter) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2011 collison.  The Defendant admitted fault for the crash.  The Plaintiff suffered a variety of injuries including a frozen shoulder, soft tissue injuries and went on to develop chronic pain with a poor prognosis for full recovery.

At trial, in addition to other heads of damages, the Plaintiff sought damages for the future cost of medical cannabis.  The Defendant objected to this arguing that “conventional prescription drugs” should be adequate.  The court was not persuaded by this defence and awarded $12,000 for the cost of medical cannabis.  In reaching this conclusion Madam Justice Dardi provided the following reasons:

[158]     I have reviewed all the authorities on medical cannabis relied on by both parties. The authorities establish that, in some cases, medical cannabis is compensable in a personal injury case: Wright v. Mistry, 2017 BCSC 239 at para. 84; Amini v. Mondragon, 2014 BCSC 1590 at paras. 133-136; Chavez-Salinas v. Tower, 2017 BCSC 2068 at para. 539.

[159]     An important fact in this case, and one that distinguished this case from many of the cases relied on by the defence, is that Mr. Carrillo, after receiving Dr. Hershler’s recommendations, has been using cannabis balm, tincture oil and capsules. I accept his evidence, that he has found the cannabis products effective and, as a result of using the cannabis products, he has experienced some pain relief. There was no evidence that the consumption has produced any negative side effects. Notably, since the Accident, Mr. Carrillo has pursued the more traditional modalities of physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, massage and injections without any significant benefit. Mr. Carrillo’s prescription pain medication provides him with some symptomatic relief but I do not accept that it controls his pain as is asserted by the defendant.

[160]     With respect to the defence submissions on Mr. Carrillo’s mental health issues, I note that Mr. Carrillo’s medical condition is currently being monitored by his primary care provider, Dr. Sennewald. The six-month’s use of cocaine for pain was some six years ago and there is no evidence of any issue arising since that time.

[161]     All things considered, I conclude that the medical cannabis program recommended by Dr. Hershler is medically justified within the meaning contemplated by the authorities and that it is reasonable to make an award for the costs of the cannabis as part of Mr. Carrillo’s future pain management plan.

[162]     The evidence on the costs of the medical cannabis was thin but not so thin as to justify not making any award for Mr. Carrillo. There was no evidence as to what the cost would be through a Health Canada supplier. Those costs may be different from the costs Mr. Carrillo actually incurred purchasing them through other dispensaries. This is a significant shortcoming that I have taken into account in my assessment. I have also factored into my assessment that in his report Dr. Hershler did not say how long Mr. Carrillo should be on the medical cannabis program. It is uncertain how long he may continue using medical cannabis.

[163]     In the result, and on the totality of the evidence and taking into account the relevant contingencies, I assess an award for medical cannabis in the amount of $12,000.


My 2018 Clawbies Nomination

December 3rd, 2018

It’s that time of year again.  The Canadian Law Blog Awards (the Clawbies), are awarded once a year to recognize outstanding Canadian legal blogs.  The nomination process involves peer endorsement and from there a select number of blogs are chosen for recognition.

I’m a Clawbies senior citizen having my first interaction with the awards almost a decade ago.  You can’t tell my age from my profile pic above because I sneakily have chosen not to update it for 14 years! Before being given my bus pass discount and shuffled away I would like to make my 2018 nomination.  This year I endorse Vancouver criminal lawyer Kyla Lee.

I won’t even nominate a specific blog (Steve and Jordan, you guys can figure out what to do with this curveball, whatever your solution make sure it involves handing out a Clawbie!). I just outright nominate Kyla and her entire social media and traditional media footprint which is big enough to swallow a BigLaw firm’s marketing department whole.  Kyla is a one woman media army using new and old media to make the law far more understandable and accessible, and that’s truly what effective legal blogging is all about.  Not to mention she is a heck of a good lawyer as well.

Check out her work on Twitter, website, Driving Law Podcast, Blog or just about every major newspaper across BC and Canada.

Great work Kyla!


$95,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Pain with Psychiatric Overlay

November 29th, 2018

Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic pain symptoms with psychiatric overlay caused by a series of collisions.

In today’s case (Sandhu v. Bates) the Plaintiff was injured in three collisions.  Fault was admitted by the Defendants.  The Plaintiff suffered injuries which developed into a myofascial pain syndrome.  She further developed somatic symptom disorders.  Her prognosis for full recovery was guarded.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $95,000 Madam Justice Winteringham provided the following reasons:

[137]     In summary, I make the following findings of fact respecting Mrs. Sandhu’s injuries:

a)    Mrs. Sandhu sustained moderate soft tissue injuries to her neck, lower back, buttock, right hip, right ankle, and right knee in the accidents.

b)    Rather than following a typical course of recovery after the accidents, Mrs. Sandhu experienced chronic low back pain affecting her buttock and pain down the right leg and associated numbness in the left buttock. Her chronic pain worsened in the first and second years following the accident and persisted at the time of trial.

c)     I accept Dr. Squire’s opinion that the diagnosis for her physical injuries is most consistent with myofascial pain syndrome of the lumbopelvic area and that the intermittent exacerbations are likely episodic acute muscle spasms and the right leg pain is likely referred pain from the myofascial pain syndrome. I also accept that she continues to experience intermittent neck pain.

d)    Dr. Joy, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Suhail all agree, and I find, that Mrs. Sandhu developed somatic symptom disorders. I note that though their diagnoses were not identical, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Suhail report that she meets the diagnostic criteria of somatic symptom disorder with predominant pain, following the accidents.  In addition, I accept Dr. Anderson’s opinion that following the accidents, Mrs. Sandhu suffers from a generalized anxiety disorder.

e)    I find that, as Mrs. Sandhu’s psychological condition deteriorated, her ability to cope with pain was poor. Dr. Suhail’s opinion, with which I agree, was that “as here pain would trigger her anxiety, her subsequent psychological problems would reduce her ability to cope with pain. Whenever she would be stressed and anxious, her back pain would increase.”

f)      Dr. Joy, Dr. Anderson, Dr. Suhail, Dr. Chapman and Dr. Kashif all agree that Mrs. Sandhu suffered from anxiety after the accidents. They disagree about prognosis. I find that the first accident, and aggravated in the second and third, caused Mrs. Sandhu’s generalized anxiety disorder. The medical experts are all of the opinion that Mrs. Sandhu’s prognosis is guarded, particularly if she is unable to address her anxiety disorder. Dr. Suhail indicated some recent improvement and, with ongoing cognitive behavioral treatment, there is some reason for cautious optimism.

[153]     I have reviewed the cases referred to by the parties. On my review of Mrs. Sandhu’s cases, as her counsel admits, the injuries suffered in some of those cases were more serious than what I have found in the present case. Similarly, I have found the cases relied on by the Defendants involved Plaintiffs with lesser injuries than those I have found in Mrs. Sandhu’s case.

[154]     In all of the circumstances, and taking into account the authorities I have been referred to, I am satisfied that an award of $95,000 will appropriately compensate Mrs. Sandhu for her pain and suffering and loss of past and future enjoyment of life, for which the Defendants are responsible.