Relationship Breakup Following Collision "Too Remote To Create Liability"


Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, finding that a claim for damages for a break-up of a relationship following a collision is too remote for liability.
In last week’s case (Shinkaruk v. Crouch) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 collision.  He was found 20% at fault for the crash with the Defendant shouldering 80% of the blame.  The Plaintiff had “a significant history of low back pain” and this pre-existing injury was aggravated by the collision.  He was awarded damages for this aggravation.
During the period of aggravation the Plaintiff experienced difficulties with his partner and eventually she asked the Plaintiff to leave.  The Court found that this event was too remote to attract damages and in doing so Madam Justice Saunders provided the following reasons:

[59] It was apparent from Ms. Wahlwroth’s description of their interaction with each other, during the period in which Mr. Shinkaruk was convalescing from the accident, that their disagreements were largely a function of the two of them having very different visions of their roles and responsibilities within their relationship. It may be that these differences did not become manifest when the two of them had different working schedules. But with Mr. Shinkaruk at home in the evenings, she testified that she found it difficult to have him there without him making any contributions to the housework, making meals, cleaning up dishes, and doing other tasks which she felt he was physically capable of. She contrasted his lack of contribution with efforts made by husbands of friends of hers, when the couples had dinner together. Their differences were compounded by their poor communication skills, and they became trapped in a cycle of angry arguments, sniping and a lack of mutual respect. This climaxed during the December 2006 family vacation, when they spent little time in each other’s company, and had heated arguments when they did. She did not want her 13 year-old son exposed to that kind of behaviour, and that was a key consideration in her asking Mr. Shinkaruk to leave. These communication problems are issues which, she testified, they have both done a lot of work on recently and now that they are seeing each other again, there is a greater deal of emotional maturity being exhibited by both of them.

[60] It appears from the evidence that the most that could be said is that the motor vehicle accident contributed to the breakup in that it created a living situation, with Mr. Shinkaruk at home convalescing, in which fundamental and deep-seated issues between this couple became manifest. To the extent that Mr. Shinkaruk may have suffered emotionally or psychologically due to their breakup in December 2006, the defendant’s negligence is too remote to create liability.

aggravation of pre-existing injuries, bc injury law, degenerative disc disease, forseeability, Madam Justice Saunders, remoteness, Shinkaruk v. Crouch

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ERIK
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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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