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.

Posts Tagged ‘chronic soft tissue injury’

$75,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages Assessment For Scapulo-Thoracic Junction Soft Tissue Injury

September 17th, 2010

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Prince George Registry, assessing damages for a chronic and partially disabling soft tissue injury.

In today’s case (Knight v. Belton) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2008 rear-end collision.  The rear motorist admitted fault for the crash.  The Plaintiff suffered various injuries the most serious of which was a Grade 2 strain at her scapulo-thoracic junction.  Injuries at this level are notoriously difficult to treat.  While the Court heard competing evidence about whether the injury would recover Madam Justice Gray accepted that it would not and that the Plaintiff would likely experience chronic pain on a permanent basis as a result.

The Court awarded the Plaintiff damages at  just over $480,000 including $75,000 for the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages.  In arriving at this figure Madam Justice Gray provided the following reasons:

[65]         Non-pecuniary damages are damages to recognize losses that have not required an outlay of money or have not involved losing payments. The purpose is to provide solace to Ms. Knight for such things as pain, suffering, disability, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life. One purpose of such damages is to substitute other amenities for those Ms. Knight has lost, not to compensate her for loss of something with a monetary value. The award addresses losses both up to the trial date and which she will suffer in the future…

[67]         Ms. Knight was and is an engaging, enthusiastic, hard-working, and practical woman. She loves dental hygiene. She will not be able to practice it full time, and may have to give up clinical practice altogether.

[68]         Ms. Knight suffered several months of headaches, vertigo, and neck pain. She suffered significant right shoulder pain for about a year. She has on-going chronic mid-back pain and periodic right shoulder pain.

[69]         Ms. Knight is chronically in pain, and as a result, is not as energetic as she was before the accident. She is no longer able to enjoy rough physical play with her children. She is no longer able to enjoy outdoor activities that she previously enjoyed, like running, hiking, boating, skiing, and bicycling. She was unable to contribute as much as she wanted to building the family home. The accident has significantly diminished the quality of her life.

[70]         Ms. Knight referred to these cases: Cleeve v. Gregerson, 2007 BCSC 1112; Gray v. Fraser Health Authority, 2009 BCSC 269; Poirier v. Aubrey, 2010 BCCA 226, 4 B.C.L.R. (5th) 173; and Paller v. Paller , 2004 BCSC 997.

[71]         The defence referred to these cases: Rorison v. Dornan, [1993] B.C.J. No. 752 (S.C.); Letourneau v. Min, 2001 BCSC 1519; Amberiadis v. Groves, 2005 BCSC 1270; Sharpe v. Tidey, 2009 BCSC 948; Ragneborg v. Giesbrecht, 2009 BCSC 110; Sylte v. Rodriguez, 2010 BCSC 207; Henri v. Seo, 2009 BCSC 76; Brock v. King, 2009 BCSC 1179; Anderson v. Merritt (City), 2006 BCSC 90; and Larlee v. Shier, 2008 BCSC 1610.

[72]         I also considered Cathro v. Davis, 2008 BCSC 1645.

[73]         No two cases are alike. Ms. Knight is entitled to damages for pain and suffering in the amount of $75,000.


$86,967.02 Awarded for Chronic Soft Tissue Injuries and Anxiety

May 30th, 2008

Reasons for judgement were released today following a 3 day trial in Vernon, BC in which Mr. Justice Cole awarded a 35 year old plaintiff close to $90,000 in compensation for her losses and injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident.

This case is worth a read for anyone advancing an ICBC claim or involved in ICBC settlement negotiations concerning the issue of ‘indivisble injuries’. That is, where an event other than the accident has contributed to the injuries sustained in the accident. I will say more about this below.

The Plaintiff was involved in a rear-end accident in Kelowna BC on June 30, 2005. Her vehicle was rearended by a truck driven by the Defendant. As a result of this incident she suffered from various soft tissue injuries and anxiety.

In early 2007, the Plaintiff was almost struck by a vehicle while she was in a cross-walk. This added to her anxiety issues.

The court heard from several medical experts who commented on the Plaintiff’s injuries. This is quite common in ICBC injury claims that proceed to trial as there is often 2 sides to the medical story. In this case, however, the medical evidence addressing the physical injuries was quite similar.

Dr. Laidlow, a physiatrist who often conducts ‘independent medical exams’ for ICBC, testified that the Plaintiff will be “prone to mechanical lower back pain…and may require the odd use of anti-inflammatories during times of flare up“.

Dr. Travlos, another physiatrist well versed in diagnosing and treating injuries related to ICBC claims, stated that “(the plaintiff’s) current residual neck and shoulder symptoms are a result of tjhe accident. It is likely that these symnptons will slowly continue to improve and ultimately resolve….the Plaintiff’s tailbone symptoms are clearly an ongoing issue…..the nature of her current low back / pelvic symptoms is intermittent and this bodes well for further recovery.”

The court also heard from the plaintiff’s family doctor who testified that there was room for improvement in the Plaintiff’s condition.

Possible future treatments for the injuries included trigger point injections, diagnostic injections, a facet joint rhizotomy and medicaitons.

In the end the court concluded that the Plaintiff sufferd a soft tissue injury “that would be described as the upper end of a moderate soft tissue injury that should resolve itself over time“. The court also found that the Plaintiff suffered from anxiety as a result of the collision in 2005 and the near collision in 2007. The Plaintiff claimed she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the collision and this was supported by the evidence of Dr. Neilson. The court, however, held that the Plaintiff did not make out this claim as the Plaintiff did not prove all the facts that were underlying Dr. Neilson’s diagnosis of PTSD.

The court awarded damages as follows:

Pain and Suffering (non pecuniary damages) $60,000

Special damages: $6,045

Past wage loss: $19,522.02

Future medical care: $400

Future Therapy: $1,000

This case did a great job reviewing 2 areas of law which frequently come up in many ICBC claims, namely claims for ‘loss of future earning capacity’ and claims where intervening events add or contribute to accident related injures.

As in many ICBC claims the Plaintiff had an intervening event which added to her anxiety. When valuing the injuries the court did a great job in summarizing how a court is to do so when the subsequent event caused an ‘indivisble injury’.

The court referenced some of the leading authorities in concluding the PTSD claim gave rise to an ‘indivisble injury’.   Most experienced ICBC claims lawyers are familiar with these authoritative cases which the court referred to, particularly:

Athey v. Leonati

EDG v. Hammer

Ashcroft v. Dhaliwal

The court concluded that “I am satisfied, in this case, that the two incidents that the plaintiff was involved in are indivisble. The anxiety caused to the plaintiff by the second incident is directly connected to the accident involving the defendant. Since the individual that caused the second accident was not before the court, as was the case in Ashcroft, where there was a settlement of the claim, the defendant is liable for all of the plaintiff’s damages

Do you have questions about this case or a similar ICBC case involving soft tissue injuries, post traumatic stress or an intervening event?  If so click here to arrange a free consultation with ICBC claims lawyer Erik Magraken.