The Other Side of the "Low Velocity Impact" Coin


I’ve written many times about the so-called “low velocity impact” defence where Defendants argue that a crash with little vehicle damage can create only minimal (or perhaps no) injuries and compensation should be accordingly modest.  These arguments have been soundly defeated many times in Court.
The other side of the equation, however, holds equally true.  Just because a collision results in severe vehicle damage does not mean that a severe injury occurred.  It is the severity of injury, not the severity of impact, that really matters.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court addressing this.
In this week’s case (Currie v. McKinnon) the Plaintiff was involved in a fairly significant collision.  He was injured in the crash.  In support of his submissions for damages the Plaintiff stressed that this was “a very serious accident” involving “high speed”.  The Court noted that these facts are of little consequence.  In addressing the ‘serious accident’ submissions Madam Justice Adair provided the following comments:

[67] There is no dispute that Mr. Currie suffered some injuries in the accident.  Mr. Currie’s position is that he continues as of trial to suffer the effects of those injuries.  The defendants’ position is that the injuries suffered in the accident were relatively minor and had resolved within a short period.  The defendants say that, to the extent Mr. Currie continues to experience symptoms – particularly neck and back pain – as of trial, those symptoms are unrelated to the accident and are not caused by injuries suffered in the accident.

[68] Mr. Dahlgren, on behalf of Mr. Currie, argues that I should conclude Mr. Currie was seriously injured because he was involved in a “very serious accident,” involving a “high speed” collision and that resulted in substantial property damage.  However, these facts are not necessarily connected in any logical way to the nature and extent of Mr. Currie’s injuries, as Thackray J. (as he then was) pointed out (in a slightly different context) in Gordon v. Palmer (1993), 78 B.C.L.R. (2d) 236, at para. 5:

Significant injuries can be caused by the most casual of slips and falls.  Conversely, accidents causing extensive property damage may leave those involved unscathed.  The presence and extent of injuries are to be determined on the basis of evidence given in court.  Objectivity is thus preserved and the public does not have to concern itself with extraneous philosophies that some would impose on the judicial process.

The Court went on to conclude that the Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries which “substantially recovered” in one year and awarded non-pecuniary damages of $22,000.

Currie v. McKinnon, High Velocity Collisions, Madam Justice Adair

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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