ICBC's Low Velocity Impact Program – Not a "Legal Principle"
Reasons for judgement were published today on the BC Supreme Court website considering the Low Velocity Impact (LVI) defence in a car crash case.
In today’s case (Mavi v. Booth) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 rear-end collision in Langley, BC. The rear motorist denied being at fault for the crash until the first day of trial when liability was admitted. Despite admitting fault, the lawsuit was fought using the LVI defence with the Defendant’s lawyer arguing that the Plaintiff did not suffer any injuries “since it was a low-velocity impact.”
In support of his injuries the Plaintiff called evidence from Dr. Hirsch, a physiatrist, who provided the following testimony:
 According to Dr. Hirsch, the expert physiatrist called on behalf of Mr. Mavi, the question of whether someone in Mr. Mavi’s position suffered an injury from a low-velocity impact depends on the change in velocity. Dr. Hirsch’s evidence was:
A: I see people who have car accidents like this and they’re not the driver and they walk away from that or they have relatively little symptoms. I see people who have relatively little car damage. You have to look not so much at the car but the change in velocity of the car. So you could have very little damage because there was no absorption of power to the car but the car was accelerated forward. And I don’t know that. What I’m saying is that there’s not a direct correlation between car damage and injury to the living organ in the car. It depends on the change in velocity.
Q: The change in velocity is the more important factor to look at?
A: For the occupant, yes. The change in velocity…
Mr. Justice Walker fond that the Plaintiff indeed was injured in the crash despite there being little vehicle damage. The Court awarded the Plaintiff $27,500 in non-pecuniary damages for his soft tissue injuries which were expected to make a full recovery. In rejecting the LVI defence Mr. Justice Walker provided the following useful statement:
13] In addition to it being unchallenged by rebuttal evidence, I found Dr. Hirsch’s evidence to be consistent, candid, logical and persuasive. I found the evidence of Mr. Mavi’s general practitioner, Dr. Beytell, to be of the same persuasive effect. Both Drs. Hirsch and Beytell opined that Mr. Mavi suffered injuries from the subject motor vehicle accident.
 There is no rule of law or legal principle that a victim of a low-velocity rear-end impact does not suffer an injury compensable in law. In each case, it is a question of fact.