Tag: Atwater v. Reese

$63,000 Awarded for Soft Tissue Injuries and Chronic Pain in ICBC Claim

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court (Atwater v. Reese) awarding a Plaintiff just over $63,000 in total damages as a result of a 2006 motor vehicle collision.
The Plaintiff was a pedestrian who sustained injuries when struck by a car.  In my experience ICBC often denies liability in these circumstances with a hope of having the court find the pedestrian at least partially at fault for not keeping a proper lookout.  In this case the ICBC Defence Lawyer argued that while the motorist was at fault the Pedestrian was contributorily negligent.  The first part of the judgement deals with this allegation and in finding the driver 100% responsible Mr. Justice Macaulay stated as follows:

[16]            I do not accept that the plaintiff was negligent in failing to watch the car as she walked in front of it.  Nor do I accept that she could have avoided the accelerating car if she had been watching.  Once in front of the car, the pedestrians were within a foot or so of the car.  There is no evidence to support the contention that the plaintiff, who was walking ahead of her sister, could have avoided the impact in the circumstances.

[17]            The impact occurred because the defendant was going through the motions of driving without actually paying any attention to what was there by way of pedestrian hazard.  I find that the defendant is entirely responsible for the accident.

In assessing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $50,000, Mr. Justice Macaulay made the following findings with respect to her injuries and prognosis:

[38]            I am satisfied that the plaintiff suffers from chronic pain but I share the view of the various professionals that her condition is still amenable to improvement provided she increases her tolerance for recreational activity.  She gave up too easily and must try harder so that she can avoid the physical and emotional downward spiral associated with inactivity.  I am also, however, satisfied that the plaintiff’s pain experience is real and not otherwise subject to conscious psychological control.

[39]            There is, accordingly, a risk that the pain will continue albeit, hopefully, at a lesser level with appropriate rehabilitation.  I do not expect her general pain level to increase nor is the plaintiff at risk of harming herself by increasing her activity level.

[40]            To the plaintiff’s credit, she missed minimal time from work after the accident.  This may have unwittingly contributed to her slow recovery and certainly affected her ability to participate in non-work activities.  She now has moved to more sedentary office work and is not waitressing as much.  The continuing waitressing she does now is of a lighter variety than before.  These changes should help over time, as well.

[41]            In my view, the plaintiff sustained a lower moderate soft tissue injury that has resulted in chronic pain and mild anxiety.  She is capable of achieving greater recovery than she has to date in spite of the time that has passed since the accident.

When trying to value your Non-Pecuniary Damages (pain and suffering) in an ICBC Injury Claim it is important to find cases with similar injuries and a similar prognosis to help establish a range of potential damages.  I intend to keep reporting non-pecuniary damages highlights in ICBC Injury Claims and look forward to growing this database.  As always, any feedback from my readers is welcome!

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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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