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 ‘LVI’

Courts Do Not Share ICBC's Views About Low Velocity Impact Injuries

August 7th, 2012

As discussed many times, the ‘low velocity impact‘ defence is not particularly compelling and is often judicially frowned upon.  Certainly there is no legal principle which states that minimal impact forces result in no compensable injuries.  This was demonstrated yet again in reasons for judgement released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.

In last week’s case (Sourisseau v. Peters) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2007 collision.  Fault was admitted by the Defendant.  The Defendant advanced the LVI Defence highlighting that the impact caused under $1,000 in repair costs to both vehicles and further that the impact was likely at speeds below 8 kmph.  With this evidence in hand the Defendant argued that the plaintiff “sustained no compensable injury“.

Mr. Justice Greyell rejected this line of reasoning and found the Plaintiff was indeed injured in the low velocity impact and awarded $22,5000 for her non-pecuniary damages.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[54] While the significance of the damage sustained in a collision may be a factor with which the Insurance Corporation is concerned it is not a matter which necessarily has a direct relationship to the plaintiff’s injuries. The issue for determination is whether the plaintiff’s injuries were caused or contributed to by the accident, Gordon v. Palmer (1993), 78 B.C.L.R. (2d) 236 (BCSC); Boag v. Berna, 2003 BCSC 779.

[55] In this latter connection, the defendant called Mr. Goudie an engineer who testified the change of velocity at the time of the collision was probably less than 8 km/h.

[56] In my opinion, in the circumstances of this case, the change of velocity alone is of little significance. At the time of impact Ms. Sourisseau had her head turned sideways. The evidence clearly establishes she had had pre-existing difficulties with neck and back pain. It likely took very little by way of an impact to trigger a recurrence of that pain. The defendant called no medical evidence to suggest otherwise…

60] Accordingly, I find the plaintiff suffered pain and suffering from soft tissue injuries for approximately 14 months with the odd flare-up continuing thereafter until early 2010 when she testified she felt she had returned to her pre-accident status.

[61] After reviewing the authorities submitted by counsel I award the plaintiff $22,500 for non-pecuniary damages.


LVI Defence Rejected Again; Damages Awarded for Modest Injuries

July 23rd, 2012

In an all too familiar development reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Surpeme Corut, New Westminster Registry, considering and rejecting ICBC’s “Low Velocity Impact” defence.

In last week’s case (Hoy v. Harvey) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2010 rear-end collision.  The impact resulted very minor vehicle damage.  The defendant argued that the Plaintiff “could not have sustained his claimed injuries from such a minor impact“.  Madam Justice Fitzpatrick rejected this logic and provided the following reasons:

[46] As in most motor vehicle injury cases involving soft tissue injuries, the defence cites the oft quoted decision in Price v. Kostryba (1982), 70 B.C.L.R. 397, where Chief Justice McEachern, as he then was, stated that the Court must exercise caution in respect of subjective complaints of pain in respect of those soft tissue injuries (at 399).

[47] I agree that the extent of this collision is relatively minor and that this is a factor to be considered when assessing Mr. Hoy’s claims of injury. However, it is equally clear that even low impact collisions may cause injuries. In Lubick v. Mei and another, 2008 BCSC 555, Mr. Justice Macaulay stated:

[5]        The Courts have long debunked as myth the suggestion that low impact can be directly correlated with lack of compensable injury. In Gordon v. Palmer, [1993] B.C.J. No. 474 (S.C.), Thackray J., as he then was, made the following comments that are still apposite today:

I do not subscribe to the view that if there is no motor vehicle damage then there is no injury. This is a philosophy that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia may follow, but it has no application in court. It is not a legal principle of which I am aware and I have never heard it endorsed as a medical principle.

He goes on to point out that the presence and extent of injuries are determined on the evidence, not with “extraneous philosophies that some would impose on the judicial process”. In particular, he noted that there was no evidence to substantiate the defence theory in the case before him. Similarly, there is no evidence to substantiate the defence contention that Lubick could not have sustained any injury here because the vehicle impact was slight.

[6]        I am satisfied that Lubick sustained an injury in the collision in spite of the low impact.

[48] Generally speaking, I found Mr. Hoy to have given his evidence in a straightforward and direct manner. His subjective complaints of pain were confirmed by objective testing by both his family physician, Dr. Yong, and his physiotherapist, Ms. Mattiello. It is accepted that prior to the accident, Mr. Hoy was in good health and was suffering none of the complaints that arose just after the accident.

[49] In these circumstances, I am satisfied that the injuries suffered by Mr. Hoy in the accident were caused by the accident and that accordingly, causation has been proven.

The Court went on to note that the Plaintiff suffered minor soft tissue injuries which went on to make full recovery.  In awarding $7,000 for non-pecuniary damages the Court provided the following reasons:

[71] In this case, Mr. Hoy’s most significant injuries can be said to have been resolved fairly quickly. His neck injury was only significant for a period of approximately two months which coincided with his last treatment by his physiotherapist, Ms. Mattiello. Thereafter, he would have pain only once per month for four further episodes. His back pain persisted to the point of affecting his lifestyle only for a period of approximately three months, when he returned to work full-time and began to resume his sporting activities. All symptoms were completely resolved by May 2011, or within 11 months…

[77] I award the sum of $7,000 for non-pecuniary damages.

Lastly, paragraphs 93-104 of the reasons for judgement are worth reviewing for the Court’s analysis in declining to award the Plaintiff costs finding there was no sufficient reason to bring this modest claim in Supreme Court.  You can click here to read other decisions addressing this discretionary issue.


LVI Defence Rejected; Costs Awarded Despite Small Claims Quantum Judgement

May 29th, 2012

In my continued effort to document judicial treatment of the LVI Defence, I summarize reasons for judgement released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, yet again addressing and rejecting submissions based on this defence.

In last week’s case (Johnson v. Keats) the Plaintiff was injured in a low-speed rear end crash in Burnaby, BC.  The collision resulted in little vehicle damage.  The Plaintiff sustained soft tissue injuries of a relatively minor nature and claimed damages.

At trial the Defendant argued that the injuries were not connected to this low velocity collision.  Madam Justice Wedge disagreed and found the Plaintiff proved his case and awarded $16,000 in non-pecuniary damages.  In dismissing the LVI Defence the Court provided the following reasons:

[24] The defendant argued that the plaintiff had not established causation between the accident and his alleged injuries. The gist of the defendant’s position on causation was that it did not follow that the plaintiff, a strapping young man in reasonable physical shape, could suffer the alleged soft tissue injuries from such a low velocity impact.

[25] The difficulty with this argument is that there is simply no evidence to support it. The defendant did not have the plaintiff examined by a physician or call any evidence to suggest that low velocity impacts could not cause the kind of soft tissue injuries that the plaintiff claimed to suffer as a result of the accident.

[26] Moreover, the defendant did not put that theory to Dr. Lim when she testified. It was not suggested in cross-examination of Dr. Lim that Mr. Johnson was malingering or exaggerating his injuries.

[27] The defendant attempted to attack the plaintiff’s credibility by pointing to what I can only describe as minuscule discrepancies in his evidence.

[28] The plaintiff was a credible and even a quite remarkably low-key witness. He did not attempt to exaggerate his symptoms. His evidence was straightforward and matter of fact. He readily acknowledged he was sufficiently recovered after three weeks to return to light duties and in slightly less than three months was fit to take on the more strenuous labouring tasks of a longshoreman.

[29] Dr. Lim, too, gave forthright and factual evidence. She did not attempt to advocate on her patient’s behalf.

[30] In summary, I am satisfied the accident of March 12, 2009, caused the soft tissue injuries described by the plaintiff and his physician Dr. Lim.

The global damages awarded were below $25,000.  Despite this the Court awarded the Plaintiff costs finding there was sufficient reason to bring the claim in Supreme Court.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

…I am cognizant that the amount of the award falls within the jurisdiction of the Provincial Court. However, the case law establishes that if there is sufficient basis for the plaintiff’s proceeding in this Court, this Court has discretion to depart from the provisions of the Rules limiting costs.

[50] I have considered the issue of costs carefully given the range of non-pecuniary damages for injuries of the nature suffered by the plaintiff. It was reasonable for him to bring his claim in this Court. Accordingly, it is reasonable and fair that the plaintiff receive his costs pursuant to Rule 15-1.


Court Finds "LVI" Evidence Relevant But Not a Significant Consideration

March 22nd, 2012

In keeping with the ongoing trend of judicial criticism of ICBC’s ‘low velocity impact‘ defence (you can click here to access dozens of my archived posts detailing this) reasons for judgement were released earlier this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, confirming that while defendants are free to put evidence of minimal vehicle damage before the court, it likely is not a significant consideration.

In this week’s case (Gron v. Brown) the Plaintiff was involved in two rear-end collisions, the first in 2003, the second in 2008.  ICBC admitted fault on behalf of the rear drivers.  Both collisions were low velocity impacts.  ICBC stressed this evidence at trial.  Mr. Justice Brown found that despite the low impact of the crashes the Plaintiff did suffer injury.  The Court awarded $24,000 in non-pecuniary damages and provided the following practical critique of low velocity impact evidence:

[10] The defendants called two ICBC estimators, Mr. J. Hansen and Mr. J. Gali. Following the May 31, 2008 accident, they examined damage to the plaintiff’s Toyota Yaris and Mr. Godwin’s Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera.

[11] Mr. Hansen, who examined the Yaris, noticed some minor damage on the Yaris’s bumper cover and slight sheet metal distortion on the Yaris’s trunk lid.

[12] Mr. Gali, who examined the Oldsmobile, found minor damage to the strip moulding on its bumper. Mr. Godwin did not want to have it repaired.

[13] Neither estimator looked under the bumpers for damage, which, they granted, possibly could have been present.

[14] Low velocity impacts are common. Defendants often question the relationship between minimal vehicular damage and physical injuries claimed after low velocity impacts. In the case at bar, neither of the estimators ventured an opinion on the inherent potential for injury from the minimal physical damage they found after examining the vehicles nor claimed the expertise to do so, but as noted by Vickers J. at para. 15 in Kirsebom v. Russell, [1995] B.C.J. No. 359 (S.C.), the defendants are “entitled to argue in this or any other case that, because there has not been motor vehicle damage, there can be no injury.”

[15] Barrow J. endorsed this view in Makara v. Weihmann, 2005 BCSC 1757, where he said at para. 7:

[7]        I share this view. It follows that the extent of the damages to motor vehicles involved in a collision may well be relevant notwithstanding an admission of liability where the remaining issues make it so. In this case, the issues include whether the plaintiff suffered the injuries complained of in the accident or elsewhere. They include an assessment of the extent of the injuries generally. The nature of the collision is a relevant consideration in resolving these matters. It may not be a significant consideration, but it remains a relevant one. …


ICBC's LVI Defence Rejected Yet Again

October 26th, 2011

I’ve written about this topic too many times to give a lengthy introduction other than to say it is clear that the “Low Velocity Impact” Defence is not a legal principle.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, yet again demonstrating this.

In today’s case (Cariglino v. Okuda) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2008 collision.  She was a passenger in a vehicle that was rear-ended.  Fault was admitted.  She suffered various soft tissue injuries.  The vehicle sustained $724 in damage and the Defendant advanced the classic LVI defence arguing that this little damage “indicates the relatively minor nature of the collision and the likelihood that the complaints of injury and loss made by the plaintiff are either not related to this collision or are embellished.”.

Mr. Justice McKinnon rejected this argument and in doing so provided the following comments:

[33] No medical opinions were proffered by the defence, rather defence submitted that the plaintiff’s evidence is “unreliable” as she downplays the role of significant family stressors in her life, fixating on the collision as the sole cause of all of her problems, both before and after the collision. Curiously, defence accepts that the plaintiff is credible but not reliable. That seems to me to be a distinction without a difference.

[34] I found the plaintiff to be generally credible and, for the most part, a reliable historian. Certainly she had stresses in her life that created difficulties but she was able to manage these much more easily before the collision. A defendant takes a plaintiff as he finds her. Here the defendant has caused injury to the plaintiff who was in a somewhat fragile state, given her many family issues.

[35] The defendant contends that the very minor nature of the collision would render “improbable” the nature and extent of the injuries the plaintiff contends she suffers. I was not provided with opinion evidence to support that contention and thus am unable to accept the bald proposition that minor damage equals minor injury.

The Court accepted that the Plaintiff suffered various soft tissue injuries which largely improved in the first year following the crash and with further therapy should fully recover.  Non-Pecuniary damages were assessed at $35,000.


LVI Collision "Like Bumping a Shopping Cart" Results in Damage Award

July 4th, 2011

As I’ve discussed on many occasions, there is little credible medical evidence to suggest that a low impact collision cannot result in injury.  The LVI defense fails at trial far more than it succeeds.  That said, there is no denying that a claim for damages can be met with more skepticism if the triggering event is a low impact collision as opposed to a severe crash.  For this reason ICBC and other insurers like to highlight the minimal forces involved when Low Velocity Impact claims proceed to trial.  This was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.

In last week’s claim (Ryan v. Klakowich) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2008 collision.  Fault for the crash was admitted.  The collision involved minimal forces with the defendant testifying that the impact was “like bumping a shopping cart against a counter“.  Despite this, and despite some reliability concerns the trial judge raised with the Plaintiff’s evidence, the Court accepted the Plaintiff sustained real injury.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $25,000 Madam Justice Ross provided the following reasons:

[73] Ms. Ryan’s complaints arise from a collision of very low impact, producing minimal damage to her vehicle and none to the defendant’s. Her injuries are said to be soft tissue injuries for which there are no objective indicators. In such circumstances Ms. Ryan’s credibility is of particular importance since the physicians are to large extent dependent upon her subjective reports in reaching their opinions.

[74] I find Ms. Ryan to be a poor historian. It is my impression that she minimized the extent and duration of the injuries she suffered in previous accidents, both in her testimony and in her reports to physicians in preparation for this litigation. She also minimized the significance of the other medical conditions with which she was dealing. It is her testimony that the burden of taking care of her mother did not interfere with her work or with her social life because her other siblings would fill in. However, this was inconsistent with what she told Dr. Anderson. He reported that she was in considerable distress concerning the care of her mother on several occasions, reporting that the disproportionate burden fell upon her and that her siblings were not providing sufficient assistance…

[78] The medical evidence is of limited assistance since the opinions are to a great extent dependent upon Ms. Ryan’s subjective reports. In addition, Dr. Anderson had not treated Ms. Ryan before the 2008 Accident and so had no personal knowledge of Ms. Ryan’s condition prior to the 2008 Accident. Ms. Ryan did not provide Dr. Jung with a full history. Finally, the additional investigations that Dr. Jung and Dr. Bishop recommended have not been undertaken. In the result, there is no medical opinion that bears on the causation of the neurological symptoms Ms. Ryan now complains of in her right arm.

[79] I accept that Ms. Ryan suffered mild to moderate soft tissue injuries to her neck and shoulder girdle in the 2008 Accident. As a consequence, she experienced pain and stiffness in her neck, upper back and shoulder and headaches. I accept that these symptoms have lingered. While it is the case that many, perhaps most people, would not have suffered such injuries in such an accident, I accept that the combination of her previous injuries, scoliosis and osteoporosis would render her more fragile and susceptible of injury…

[83] I award $25,000 in non-pecuniary damages.


BC Supreme Court Criticizes ICBC LVI Defence as having "no scientific justification"

June 10th, 2011

As frequently discussed, the Low Velocity Impact (LVI) defence has been criticized many times by the BC Supreme Court.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating yet again that the LVI defence is not a recognized legal principle.

In today’s case (Dolha v. Heft) the Plaintiff was involved 2008 rear end collision.  Fault was admitted.  The Plaintiff suffered a “mild to moderate” whiplash injury which resolved in several months.  The Court awarded the Plaintiff $7,000 for non-pecuniary damages.  Prior to doing so the Court criticized the LVI Defence as having “no scientific justification“.  In assessing damages Madam Justice Bruce provided the following reasons:

[16] Based on the evidence led in this summary trial application, I find there is no reason to doubt the veracity of the plaintiff’s claims that she suffered pain in her neck and upper back, as well as headaches and dizziness, immediately following the accident and for a period of six to nine months thereafter. Moreover, there is no evidence to contradict Dr. Samaroo’s opinion that these symptoms arise from soft tissues injuries caused by the accident. There is no scientific justification for concluding that a low velocity collision is incapable of causing injuries. The minor nature of the collision is only one factor to consider when assessing the severity of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. While the medical evidence before the court is primarily based on the subjective complaints of the plaintiff, there is no evidence that the plaintiff’s symptoms continued beyond what would normally be expected for these types of soft tissue injuries. Thus the caution expressed in Butler and Price is not relevant on the facts of this case….

[19] Turning to the factors relevant to the assessment of non-pecuniary loss, it is apparent that the injuries suffered by the plaintiff were of a minor nature. While she experienced pain and required medication to alleviate this symptom, the plaintiff had full range of motion in her back and her neck throughout her convalescence. In addition, the symptoms experienced by the plaintiff were not sufficiently severe that she required passive modalities such as physiotherapy, massage therapy or chiropractic manipulation. The plaintiff last saw her doctor for pain due to accident-related injuries in late November 2008, some five months after the collision. The plaintiff’s injuries resolved entirely after a relatively short period of six to nine months. The headaches persisted for about a year; however, they decreased in intensity and severity over time. The plaintiff has no residual effects from the injuries. Lastly, the plaintiff’s lifestyle was only moderately impacted by the injuries. She was unable to run for a couple of months.

[20] The plaintiff suffered some emotional anxiety as a result of the accident and had sleep difficulties. The sleep problem resolved quickly and the increased anxiety was modest in severity and did not persist over a lengthy period of time.

[21] Lastly, the plaintiff is a relatively young woman who does not suffer from any particular emotional or physical condition that rendered or could have rendered the injuries she suffered more disabling.

[22] Having regard to the range of non-pecuniary damages awarded in the cases cited by the parties, and the particular circumstances of the plaintiff, I find an award of $7,000 is appropriate.


LVI Defence Rejected; $12,000 Awarded For Modest Injuries

December 16th, 2010

Further to my dozens of previous posts discussing ICBC’s Low Velocity Impact (LVI) Defence to tort claims involving crashes with little vehicle damage, reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, once again rejecting this defence.

Today’s case is a great example demonstrating that compensable injuries can be sustained even in true ‘low velocity impacts‘.  In today’s case (De Leon v. Harold) the Plaintiff was involved in a two vehicle collision in 2007 in Vancouver, BC.  The Defendant rear-ended the Plaintiff’s vehicle.  Fault for the crash was admitted.  The trial focussed on whether the Plaintiff sustained any injuries.

There was no dispute that the collision was minor.  The Plaintiff described the impact as a “bump“.  The Defendant testified that her car “tapped” the Plaintiff’s car.  The modest impact resulted in $0 in vehicle damage.

Despite this the Plaintiff was injured.  The injuries were, fortunatley, relatively modest and made a meaningful recovery within 6 months.  ICBC defended the case based on the LVI program and argued that the Plaintiff was not injured in the collision.  Madam Justice Power rejected this argument and in doing so repeated the following helpful reasons addressing the LVI defence:

[14]         In Lubick v. Mei [2008] B.C.C.A. No. 777, Macaulay J. stated at paragraph 5:

[5]        The courts have long debunked the suggestion that low impact can be directly correlated with lack of compensable injury. In Gordon v. Palmer [1993] B.C.J. No. 474 (S.C.), Thackeray J. as he then was, made the following comments that are still apposite today.

I do not subscribe to the view that if there is no motor vehicle damage then there is no injury. This is the philosophy that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia may follow, but it has no application in court. It is not a legal principle of which I am aware and I have not heard it endorsed as a medical principle.

He goes on to point out that the presence and extent of injuries are determined on the evidence, not with “extraneous philosophies that some would impose on the judicial process.”  In particular he noted that there was no evidence to substantiate the defence theory in the case before him. . . .

[15]         In Dao v. Vance 2008 BCSC 1092 Williams J. stated:

[18]      This was undoubtedly a low-velocity collision where damage to the vehicle was so minimal as to be almost non-existent. All of the evidence supports that conclusion. In such instances, claims for compensation for injury are often resisted on the basis that there is reason to doubt their legitimacy. Furthermore, in this case, the principle evidence in support of the plaintiff’s claim is subjective, that is, it is her self report. There is not a great deal of objective evidence to support her description of the injuries she claims to have suffered.

[19]      In response to those concerns, I would observe that there is no principle of law which says that because damage to the vehicle is slight or non-detectable that it must follow that there is no injury. Certainly, as a matter of common sense, where the collision is of slight force, any injury is somewhat likely at least to be less severe than in a situation where the forces are greater, such as to result in significant physical damage to the automobiles. Nevertheless, I do not accept that there can be no injury where there is no physical damage to the vehicles.

Madam Justice Power assessed the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $12,000 and in doing so made the following findings about her injuries:

[19]         I am satisfied that the plaintiff has discharged this burden and that soft-tissue injuries to her neck and back were suffered as the result of the accident. I am satisfied that the injuries were substantially resolved within two months of the accident as the result of the plaintiff’s active efforts in the first two months to attend chiropractic and massage therapy and that the injury was almost completely resolved within six months…

[22]         Having regard to the fact that each award must be based on the unique circumstances of the case, and that the plaintiff’s stoicism is a factor that should not penalize the plaintiff (Giang v. Clayton 2005 B.C.J 163 2005, (B.C.C.A.)), I am of the view that an appropriate award for the plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages in this case is $12,000. The plaintiff will be awarded $1,200 for four days of lost work as the agreed-to amount of the parties for special damages.

[23]         Therefore the total damage award is $13,200. Costs may be spoken to or written submissions may be made at the agreement of the parties.


BC Supreme Court Reminds ICBC That The LVI Defence is "Illogical"

November 29th, 2010

I’ve written numerous times about the so-called “Low Velocity Impact Defence” to tort claims and that is has been soundly rejected by the BC Supreme Court.  Reasons for judgement were published this week on the BC Supreme Court website further criticizing the LVI Defence.

In this week’s case (Lee v. Hawari) the Plaintiff was injured in 2006 motor vehicle collision.  The Defendant argued that the Plaintiff could not have been injured because this was a low velocity crash.  Madam Justice Adair disagreed and found that the Plaintiff suffered “mild to moderate soft-tissue injuries to her neck, shoulder (including the right trapezius strain) and back, and she continues to suffer some symptoms, including pain, from those injuries as of trial“.  The Court went on to award the Plaintiff $21,000 for her non-pecuniary damages.  Prior to doing so Madam Justice Adair provided the following sound criticism of the LVI defence:

[53] Mr. Hawari appears to suggest that because this was a low velocity collision, Ms. Lee could not have suffered any injury, or could only have suffered minor injuries.  However, this does not follow, either as a matter of logic or legal principle,  as Mr. Justice Thackray reminded litigants (and their insurers) in Gordon v. Palmer (1993), 78 B.C.L.R. (2d) 236 (S.C.), at para. 4 to 6.  See also Jackman v. All Season Labour Supplies Ltd., 2006 BCSC 2053, at paras 12 to 13, and Ceraldi v. Dathie, 2008 BCSC 1812, at para. 27.  The presence and extent of injuries are to be determined on the basis of evidence given in court.

Published reasons such as these aimed at insurance companies behind the defendants are a welcome reminder that deciding whether compensable injuries were sustained in a collision should be determined by viewing all of the evidence, not by artificial standards giving undue focus to vehicle repair costs.


Another Judicial Rejection of ICBC's "Low Velocity Impact" Defence

November 2nd, 2010

I’ve written numerous times that ICBC’s Low Velocity Impact Defence (“LVI”) is not a legal principle.  A defence based on this principle was rejected yet again in reasons for judgement released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry,

In today’s case (Hunter v. Yuan) the Plaintiff’s vehicle was rear-ended by a taxi driven by the Defendant in 2006 in North Vancouver, BC.  Fault for the crash was admitted by the rear motorist.

Both parties agreed that the accident was “minor in nature“.  Despite the minor nature of the crash the Plaintiff was injured and continued to be troubled by her injuries by the time the claim reached trial some 4 years later.  The Defendant argued that this was a “minor accident which resulted in a minimal injury“.  In keeping with ICBC’s LVI policy the Defendant argued that the Plaintiff should receive nothing for non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) or in the alternative “If the court were to award damages for non-pecuniary loss, the defence suggests that an award should be very modest“.

Madam Justice Morrison rejected the defence submission and awarded the Plaintiff damages for her losses including $35,000 for non-pecuniary damages.  In arriving at this figure the Court provided the following reasons:

[68]        First, I found the plaintiff to be entirely credible.  She did not seek to exaggerate, and gave her evidence in a very direct manner.  She was responsive to questions, and did not seek to avoid or be defensive with the tough questions posed on cross-examination.  I certainly accept her evidence with regard to her symptoms, past and present.  There is no credible or reliable evidence of any pre-existing injuries or conditions, and her injuries and ongoing symptoms are due to the accident of October 20, 2006.

[69]        It is true that the force of the accident was not major, but the evidence points to no other cause of the injuries and symptoms experienced by the plaintiff, other than the accident of October 20, 2006.

[70]        To say that the plaintiff experienced only three weeks of disability, or six or eight weeks at the most, is to ignore most of the evidence of the plaintiff, her family doctor, her fiancée, her father and Dr. Travlos.

[71]        Although by the summer of 2008 the plaintiff felt she was 85% recovered, she testified that at the present time, the flare-ups occur frequently, sometimes once every week or two, or more often, if she does activities that cause such flare-ups.  The flare-ups result in tension and muscle knots between her shoulder blades, particularly toward her right shoulder and neck area, and headaches occur.  She has sleep disruptions, difficulty getting to sleep, and voluntarily avoids some activities that she enjoyed prior to the accident; she avoids them rather than put herself in a position where pain or a flare-up will occur.

[72]        The evidence would indicate that her recovery has plateaued.  She takes Tylenol and Cyclobenzaprine on occasion, and she finds that she must remain active and exercise, as inactivity will make her symptoms worse.

[73]        The plaintiff’s pain is not chronic and continuous, but she suffers pain and increased pain with certain kinds of exertion.  It has been four years since the accident occurred, and Ms. Hunter continues to have pain in her shoulders, particularly her upper right back, and neck.  Ordinary daily activities such as carrying groceries, doing the laundry, vacuuming, and certain types of cleaning cause flare-ups, which result in pain.

[74]        Counsel for the plaintiff, in addressing the issue of non-pecuniary damages, has cited six cases where non-pecuniary damages ranged from $30,000 to $50,000.  Relying primarily onJackman v. All Season Labour Supplies Ltd. and Crichton v. McNaughton, the plaintiff submits that an award of $40,000 would be reasonable for non-pecuniary damages.

[75]        I agree that those two cases are helpful, given the evidence in this case, and I would award $35,000 for non-pecuniary damages.

This judgement demonstrates the reality that minimal crashes can result in injury including long-standing injury. The LVI Defence is divorced from medicine and law.  The rare occasions when the LVI defence succeeds before a judge is where the Plaintiff is found to lack credibility.   When injuries are supported with medical evidence it is rare for a lack of substantial vehicle damage to prove fatal to a personal injury lawsuit.