Skip to main content

Damages Awarded in "No Impact" Motor Vehicle Incident

As previously discussed, given the right circumstances a lawsuit for damages following a motor vehicle incident can succeed even if there is no impact between vehicles.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating this reality.
In this week’s case (Pang v. Dhalla) the Defendant made a lane change into the Plaintiff’s lane of travel.  This was done negligently forcing the Plaintiff to bring his vehicle to an abrupt stop.   The Plaintiff alleged the incident caused a disk injury although this claim was rejected.  Despite this the Court found the Plaintiff did suffer some modest soft tissue injuries due to the Defendant’s negligence and assessed non-pecuniary damages at $5,000.  In finding the Defendant liable for damages caused in a ‘no-impact’ incident Madam Justice Dillon provided the following reasons:

[7] Based upon this evidence, the plaintiff has not proven that there probably was an impact or collision between the vehicles. At best, the plaintiff hard braked to avoid an accident after the defendant turned into his lane. From the actions of the plaintiff in slowing as it became apparent that the defendant was moving her vehicle into his lane and from the evidence of the defendant, I conclude that the defendant signalled her lane change. It cannot be determined that Ms. Lee was in a position to see or not to see a signal.

[8] However, the defendant was negligent in changing lanes before ascertaining that it could be made safely without affecting the travel of another vehicle, in this case, the plaintiff’s vehicle. The defendant had to hard brake to avoid an accident. If the defendant had looked at her blind spot, she would have determined that she could not safely enter the curb lane. Her failure to do so caused the plaintiff to hard brake….

[20] In my view, the plaintiff has not proven that the braking of his vehicle to prevent an accident caused anything other than a minor exacerbation of pre-existing pain in his neck, shoulder, and lower back. Because of his failure to fully inform both doctors, their opinions about the accident causing a disc injury are seriously undermined. The minor nature of the injuries is supported by the fact that the plaintiff’s neck and shoulder symptoms resolved within a few months, the plaintiff did not take time off work, and he needed little medication. The effect on lifestyle was minimal.

[21] The defendant provided a range of damage for non-pecuniary loss of $2,500 to $5,000. The plaintiff described a range of $20,000 to $40,000. Having considered the cases provided, I conclude that an award of $5,000 is appropriate.

bc injury law, Madam Justice Dillon, no-impact collision, Pang v. Dhalla