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 ‘Gordon v. Ahn’

BC Court of Appeal – The Phrase Crumbling Skull is “Rarely Helpful”

June 8th, 2017

Reasons were released today by the BC Court of Appeal criticizing  the phrase ‘crumbling skull’ and spelling out the analysis a Court must take when dealing with non tort related causes to a Plaintiff’s position.

In the recent case (Gordon v. Ahn) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 collision and was awarded $50,000 at trial.  In reaching the award the trial judge noted that the plaintiff was a ‘crumbling skull’ and further that she failed to mitigate her damages and reduced the damage assessment by some unspecified amount.  The BC Court of Appeal ordered a new trial noting the trial judge did not properly address the evidence to justify any reductions.  In discussing what is needed of a Court when deciding what position a plaintiff would be in but for the tort the following reasons were provided:

[33]        The use of the phrase “crumbling skull” to describe a plaintiff’s condition is, in any event, rarely helpful. As Major J. explained in Athey, there are no special rules or analyses that apply to claims made by plaintiffs who, before becoming victims of a tort, are affected by conditions that may deteriorate in the future. Damages are always to be assessed by reference to the situation that the plaintiff would be in but for the wrongdoing. Describing a plaintiff as coming within the “crumbling skull doctrine” does not eliminate the need for a complete analysis of the pain and suffering caused by the accident.

[34]        The judge found that there was “an inter-relationship between the pain that the plaintiff experienced from her physical injuries and her emotional or psychological problems”. He also found that her psychological problems “worsened because of the accident”. Even in cases where a plaintiff is suffering from serious chronic depression, an aggravation of the symptoms attributable to a tort is compensable: Sangha v. Chen, 2013 BCCA 267. In the present case, where the plaintiff’s symptoms were fairly minor before the accident, but developed into major depression as a result of the accident, it is clear that damages ought to have been awarded.

[35]        It is not apparent, from the judge’s reasons, whether he awarded any damages in respect of the depression brought on by the accident. Beyond referring to the “crumbling skull doctrine”, he did not undertake any analysis of the issue of damages in relation to Ms. Gordon’s emotional and psychological deterioration.

[36]        A proper analysis of the issue would have required the judge to consider the degree to which Ms. Gordon’s psychological and emotional health was damaged by the accident. Such an analysis would have required a detailed consideration of her pre-accident and post-accident mental health, as well as an assessment of the likelihood that a deterioration would have occurred even in the absence of an accident (see Laidlaw v. Couturier, 2010 BCCA 59). The judge failed, in this case, to undertake such an analysis.


$50,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for 7 Year Lingering Soft Tissue Injuries

May 5th, 2016

Update June 8, 2017Today the BC Court of Appeal ordered a new trial in this case finding the trial judge made several errors. 

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

In today’s case (Gordon v. Ahn) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 collision caused by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries to her low back.  Some symptoms persisted to the time of trial and were expected to linger to “ for some period of time into the future“.

In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $50,000 Mr. Justice Bowden provided the following reasons:

63]         There is no dispute that the plaintiff suffered physical injuries from the motor vehicle accident in August 2009. The defendants accept that the plaintiff suffered soft tissue injury to her neck, back and shoulder areas. The defendants also accept that the plaintiff suffered a disc herniation which came on about one month after the accident but appeared to improve clinically by January 2010…

[82]         While I find that the plaintiff’s physical injuries had largely resolved by the summer of 2011, I accept Dr. Badii’s opinion that she will experience some degree of lower back pain for some period of time into the future. However, it does not appear that the lower back pain will limit her functioning in a material way either at work or recreationally…

[111]     In light of my conclusions regarding the plaintiff’s injuries, including their severity, the resolution of the most severe injuries, the impact of her injuries on her lifestyle and general well-being, I have concluded than an award of $50,000 is reasonable.

[112]     In arriving at that amount I have considered that the plaintiff failed in some respects to mitigate her damages. She discontinued physiotherapy and did little by way of an exercise program as recommended by her treating physicians. She also did not take anti-depressants as recommended and increased her use of marihuana. However, I do accept that the plaintiff did take some steps that may have contributed to her substantial recovery in 2011.