Another LVI Case, Another Award for Damages

I’ve blogged many times about ICBC’s LVI program.  This program is not unique to ICBC.  Many auto insurers have a similar program where they deny compensible injury in tort claims where little vehicle damage occurs in the collision.
The difficulty with the LVI defence, however, is that to successfully run it the defence lawyer is basically inviting the court to find that the Plaintiff is lying about or exaggerating their injuries.  There have been many LVI cases that have gone to trial recently and the overwhelming judicial response to these was to find that compensible injury in fact did occur. Reasons for judgment were released today dealing with 2 LVI cases and such a finding was made again.
In today’s case (Loik v. Hannah) the Plaintiff was involved in 2 collisions in 2006.  Fault was admitted in each case leaving the Court to deal with the issue of quantum of damages (value of the claims).  The cases were defended on the LVI basis where the defence lawyer denied that the Plaintiff was injured in either of the accidents.
Mr. Justice Goepel rejected this argument and found that, notwithstanding the minor nature of these collisions, the Plaintiff was indeed injured.  The court’s useful analysis is set out at paragraphs 34-36 which I set out below:

[34] Ms. Loik claims damages arising from injuries she alleges to have suffered in what were two admittedly low velocity conditions. If the plaintiff was injured in the accidents, the injuries have persisted much longer than one would normally expect. In determining this case, the comments of Chief Justice McEachern, as he then was, in Price v. Kostryba (1982), 70 B.C.L.R. 397 at 398-99 (S.C.), must be kept in mind:

Perhaps no injury has been the subject of so much judicial consideration as the whiplash. Human experience tells us that these injuries normally resolve themselves within six months to a year or so. Yet every physician knows some patients whose complaint continues for years, and some apparently never recover. For this reason, it is necessary for a court to exercise caution and to examine all the evidence carefully so as to arrive at fair and reasonable compensation. …

In Butler v. Blaylock, decided 7th October 1981, Vancouver No. B781505 (unreported), I referred to counsel’s argument that a defendant is often at the mercy of a plaintiff in actions for damages for personal injuries because complaints of pain cannot easily be disproved. I then said:

I am not stating any new principle when I say that the court should be exceedingly careful when there is little or no objective evidence of continuing injury and when complaints of pain persist for long periods extending beyond the normal or usual recovery.

An injured person is entitled to be fully and properly compensated for any injury or disability caused by a wrongdoer. But no one can expect his fellow citizen or citizens to compensate him in the absence of convincing evidence – which could be just his own evidence if the surrounding circumstances are consistent – that his complaints of pain are true reflections of a continuing injury.

[35] In this case, as in most soft tissue injury cases, the case largely turns on the plaintiff’s credibility. The evidence of her injuries is based almost entirely on her subjective reporting to her doctors and to the Court. In such circumstances, it is important to consider whether the evidence of the witness accords with the circumstances that are proven on a balance of probabilities:  Faryna v. Chorny (1951), [1952] 2 D.L.R. 354, 4 W.W.R. (N.S.) 171 (B.C.C.A.).

[36] I find the plaintiff to be a credible witness. Her evidence accords with the surrounding circumstances. Prior to the accident, she was living a healthy active life, participating in many activities. She no longer is able to do so. I find that the reason she cannot do so is the ongoing pain she continues to suffer as a result of the motor vehicle accidents.

Mr. Justice Goepel found that the Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries in these collisions “which have caused her ongoing problems with her neck, back and shoulders.”  He went on to value the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $25,000.

In addition to a useful discussion about LVI Accidents, the court went on to discuss a topic that I wrote about yesterday, namely the connection between the value of a claim and the numnber of medical appointments attended.

The Defendant argued that since the Plaintiff did not seek medical treatment between November 2006 and April 2008 her injuries had fully recovered.  Mr. Justice Goepel rejected this argument finding that “She thought she was getting better and continued to do the exercises that had been prescribed for her. When, over the next 18 months, her condition did not improve, she sought further medical treatment. In the circumstances of this case, I find that the failure to seek medical treatment does not establish that the plaintiff had recovered from her injuries by November 2006.”

credibility, ICBC claims, Loik v. Hannah, low velocity impact program, LVI, medical treatments and value of injuries, Mr. Justice Goepel, soft tissue injuries

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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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