Tag: bc injury law

ICBC Claims and Requests for "Particulars"


When suing for compensation in an ICBC claim the BC Supreme Court Rules contain various ways to force disclosure of information.  From requiring the exchange of relevant documents, permitting the parties to attend an examination for discovery and even forcing an ‘independent medical exam’ in certain circumstances there are many tools which can be used to learn about your opponents case.
One further tool is the request for “particulars“.  If a party to a lawsuit is not clear what the other side is formally putting in issue they can ask for clarification by making a demand for particulars under Rule 3-7(23) of the Rules of Court.  There are, however, limits to the use of this Rule and this was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released this week by the BC Supreme Court.
In this week’s case (Yousofi v. Phillips) the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle collision.  He sued for damages seeking compensation for, amongst other things, past and future wage loss, past and future medical expenses, past and future disability and out of pocket expenses.  ICBC’s lawyer demanded that the Plaintiff provide particulars of these claims.  The Plaintiff refused arguing that this was an inappropriate request.  Mr. Justice Hinkson agreed with the Plaintiff and in dismissing the Defence motion made the following useful comments about the limited use requests for particulars should have in ICBC injury claims:

The entitlement of a party to particulars…is discussed by Mr. Justice Joyce in Delaney & Friends Cartoon Productions Ltd. v. Radical Entertainment Inc. et al, 2005 BCSC 371, beginning at paragraph 9.

[4] In that case, His Lordship makes the point that:

Particulars are provided to disclose what the pleader intends to prove. How that party intends to prove the material facts and particulars is a matter of evidence. The pleading party is not required to, and indeed, is not entitled to set out in the pleadings the evidence that he or she intends to adduce at trial to prove the facts that have been pleaded.

[5] In David et al v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada et al, 2004 BCSC 1306, Mr. Justice Cohen considered the distinction between the material facts and evidence and referred to an earlier decision of Mr. Justice Joyce when he was a master of this court, Firestone v. Smith, [1991] B.C.J. No. 2660 (S.C.)(QL), where Master Joyce said at paragraph 11:

In my view the concern raised by the plaintiff at this stage is that he does not know but would like to know now what precise evidence the defendant may lead in support of his allegations of fact. In my respectful opinion the plaintiff is not entitled to ascertain the evidentiary basis of the defendant’s case by way of this demand for particulars.

[6] Turning to the notice of motion for particulars, the particulars sought at a relatively late juncture following examinations for discovery include a request for further and better particulars with respect to:

(a)      The Plaintiff’s Past and Prospective Loss of Enjoyment of Life

In my view, that is an inappropriate request for particulars and is a matter that can and should be pursued by way of examination for discovery. In my view, it is not necessary to provide particulars with respect to that head of damage.

(b)      The Plaintiff’s Past and Prospective Physical Disability

The injuries alleged by the plaintiff have been set out in the statement of claim and the extent of his disability arising therefrom is not a matter that is required as an item of pleadings. It, too, should be pursued by examination for discovery.

(c)      The Plaintiff’s Past and Prospective Loss of Earnings

Insofar as the past loss of earnings is concerned, this is information that can be identified and quantified and should be provided by the plaintiff to the defendant. It is not, in my view, appropriate that it be provided as particulars, but I am satisfied it should be provided in some fashion to the defendant, and I am going to direct that the plaintiff quantify his claim for past loss of earnings and provide that information to the defendant.

Insofar as prospective loss of earnings is concerned, I am not satisfied that that is a matter that can be necessarily particularized, and I leave it to the defendant to pursue that through examinations for discovery.

(d)      The Plaintiff’s Past and Prospective Loss of Earning Capacity

Like the prospective loss of earnings, I do not consider this to be an appropriate subject matter for particulars, and it is a matter that can be pursued by way of examination for discovery.

(e)      The Plaintiff’s Past and Prospective Loss of Opportunity to Earn Income

This is a head that is hard to distinguish from past and prospective loss of earning capacity. To the extent there is any difference, in my view it should be treated the same as the request for particulars of past and prospective loss of earning capacity.

(f)       The Plaintiff’s Past and Prospective Loss of Housekeeping Capacity

This is another matter that in my view does not warrant particularization in the pleadings. It can be pursued through examinations for discovery.

(g)      The Trust Award on Behalf of the Plaintiff’s Friends and Family

This, too, is not a matter that, in my view, should be dealt with by way of particulars, with this exception:  The individual or individuals for whom a trust award is claimed should be identified in the statement of claim where the trust award is advanced.

(h)      The Plaintiff’s Special Damages

These are matters that should be identified by the plaintiff for the defendant, but not as particulars of the pleadings.

Medical and Transportation Costs Need To Be Assessed "In The Real World"


When suing an at fault party in a personal injury claim the Plaintiff is entitled to compensation for their reasonable medical expenses.  These expenses may include the cost of driving to and from various medical and therapy appointments.  How much is a reasonable amount to claim for transportation costs?  Reasons for judgement were released today addressing this topic.
In today’s case (Greewal-Cheema v. Tassone) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2007 BC motor vehicle accident.  Her vehicle was rear-ended.  Fault was admitted by the rear motorist.  The trial focused on the value of her ICBC claim.
The crash caused soft tissue injuries which largely recovered by the time of trial and the Plaintiff was awarded $25,000 for her pain and suffering.  In the course of recovering from her injuries the Plaintiff attended various therapies and claimed reimbursement at $0.50 per kilometer for the travel incurred in driving to and from these appointments.  ICBC argued that this was excessive and that no more than $.30 per kilometer should be allowed.  Mr. Justice Stewart disagreed with ICBC and found that the Plaintiff claimed a reasonable amount for her mileage related expenses.  In reaching this conclusion the Court provided the following useful comments:
[60] The plaintiff claims special damages of $2,683.50.  The defendants take issue with only a few things.  The defendants say that the amount allowed for mileage should be $.30 per kilometre not $.50 per kilometre.  Both counsel refer to the Schedules that form part of the Rules of Court.  I am not bound by the Rules on this point.  I say that what matters is that judges live in the real world.  In this day and age $.50 per kilometre is, if anything, too little.  I am against the defendants.  $.50 per kilometre it will be.  The defendants also made a submission about the period June 5, 2008 to August 25, 2008 and what the plaintiff was about during her “voluntary work strengthening program”.  Simply put, I found the defendants’ submission unconvincing.  I accept the plaintiff’s testimony to the effect that she worked hard and diligently and treated what she was about as if it were her job.  In the result I award the plaintiff $2,683.50 by way of special damages.

More on ICBC Claims, Fault and Credibility


After a collision occurs it is not uncommon for the parties involved to disagree as to how the crash happened and who is at fault.  If there are no independent witnesses to a crash it can be difficult to decide which version is more believable.  When these cases go to trial it is vital to give evidence in a consistent, reliable and credible way otherwise the Court may discount what you have to say.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Cranbrook Registry, dealing with the topic of credibility.
In today’s case (Tierney v. GMAC Leaseco Corporation) the Plaintiff was injured in a motorcycle collision in 2005 in Kimberley, BC.  The Plaintiff lost control of his motorcycle and struck a building located on the opposite side of the road from his proper lane of travel.  He claimed that the Defendant was at fault for the crash because the Defendant (who was driving a vehicle in the opposite direction of travel) “cut into the corner on his side of the road forcing him to take evasive action by turning sharply.”
The Defendant disagreed arguing that she never came into the Plaintiff’s lane of travel, rather the Plaintiff simply lost control and was responsible for his own injuries.  There were no independent witnesses who could satisfactorily comment on how the crash happened leaving the Court to pick between the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s evidence.  Ultimately Mr. Justice McEwan preferred the Defendant’s evidence and dismissed the lawsuit.   The Plaintiff’s evidence was at times “uncertain“, “conflicting” and “contradictory“.  These were some of the reasons which caused the Court to prefer the Defendant’s version of events.  In dismissing the lawsuit the Court held as follows:

[48]        The absence of physical evidence, and the unreliability of the various witnesses, including irreconcilable contradictions in the evidence, leaves the court to weigh what it has. This is not a case where both parties are implicated and it is not possible to discern the degree to which each is responsible, leading to an equal split in liability. For the plaintiff to succeed, the court must accept his evidence that, first, he intended to turn right at the curve and second, that the defendant was in his lane at that point. His own evidence and the surrounding evidence and circumstances suggest it is unlikely that his intention at the time was to go up to the highway.

[49]        The defendant on the other hand, gives a straightforward story of proceeding from the highway to the curve on Jennings Avenue, having made a recent right turn. She had had little opportunity to accelerate as she approached the curve. She was not preoccupied or distracted. Her evidence is unreliable in the aftermath of the realization that her vehicle was in danger of colliding with the plaintiff’s motorcycle, but not in respect to the details leading up to the event..

[50]        I do not think it is possible to say what happened with complete confidence, although I think the defendant’s version of events more likely. What that means for the plaintiff is that he has failed to carry the burden of proof that, on a balance of probabilities, the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the accident. This means, accordingly, that the plaintiff’s action is dismissed.

While there are no novel legal principles arising out of this decision, this case is worth reviewing in full for anyone involved in an ICBC case where credibility will play a crucial role to see the types of facts a Court can take into account when weighing two different versions to a motor vehicle collision.  For more on this topic you can click here to read my archived posts discussing credibility in ICBC claims.

Non-Pecuniary Damages Discussed for "Waxing and Waning" Soft Tissue Injuries


As I’ve previously discussed, some of the most important factors to consider when valuing a claim for pain and suffering are the severity and duration of the injury.
Not all injuries have the same course of recovery.  Some soft tissue injuries never heal.  Sometimes they cause constant chronic pain.  Other times these injuries largely recover but ‘wax and wane’ with activity.   What is the fair value of a soft tissue injury with symptoms that come and go over the years?  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Kamloops Registry, addressing such an injury.
In this week’s case (Schmidt v. Hawkins) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2005 BC motor vehicle collision.  The crash happened at near highway speed when the Defendant pulled into the Plaintiff’s lane of travel resulting in a significant T-bone type collision.  The Defendant admitted fault for the crash focusing the trial on the value of the Plaintiff’s ICBC claim.
The Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries.  These affected her neck and upper back and caused headaches.  her symptoms improved somewhat by the time of trial but were expected to ‘wax and wane‘ over the course of her lifetime.   Madam Justice Hyslop assessed the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $45,000.  In arriving at this figure the Court made the following findings about the nature and severity of the Plaintiff’s injuries:

[78]         Drs. Waller, Raghavan and Lau, for the most part, agree in their diagnosis and prognosis. Drs. Raghavan and Lau expect Mrs. Schmidt’s injuries to “wax and wane” over her lifetime. Drs. McDougall and Boyce are much more optimistic. For the most part, the doctors agree on the nature of Mrs. Schmidt’s injuries.

[79]         They all agree that Mrs. Schmidt should participate in a gym conditioning program. This was initially recommended by Dr. McDougall on February 6, 2007. Dr. Lau discouraged dependency on outside modules in place of an aerobic program, as did Dr. Boyce. All the doctors were of the opinion that Mrs. Schmidt could return to full-time employment….

[96]         At the time of trial, Mrs. Schmidt was age 39. The accident resulted in causing injuries to Mrs. Schmidt leaving her with a stiff and painful neck, pain in her upper back and, in particular, between the shoulder blades and headaches.

[97]         Mrs. Schmidt believes that her condition was not getting any better causing Mrs. Schmidt to have some minor depression.

[98]         It impacted her social life and some of her activities. At trial, for the most part, she was back to her regular activities.

[99]         As a result of her injuries, she required some assistance from family members and neighbours to meet some of her household and gardening responsibilities…

[141] I assess Mrs. Schmidt’s non-pecuniary damages at $45,000.00.

More on ICBC Claims and Lack of Objective Signs of Injury


As I’ve previously written, objective signs aren’t always present to verify an injury.  Often times victims of motor vehicle collisions experience pain and limitations but the source of the injury can’t be documented through objective tests such as X-rays, CT Scans and MRI’s.  If an injury can’t be objectively verified does that prevent a successful lawsuit for compensation?  The answer is no and reasons for judgement were released today demonstrating this fact.
In today’s case (Sandher v. Hogg) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 motor vehicle collision.  Her vehicle was rear-ended by the Defendant’s.  The Defendant admitted fault for the crash.  The trial focused on the nature and extent of the Plaintiff’s injuries.
The Plaintiff’s doctors gave evidence that she suffered injuries to her connective tissues (often referred to as soft tissue injuries) and that these have not fully healed.  The Plaintiff went on to experience chronic pain as a result of these injuries with a chance that the pain would continue indefinitely.
The Defendant’s lawyer argued that all of the Plaintiff’s complaints are subjective and can’t be verified.  He argued that the Plaintiff was exaggerating her symptoms to advance her personal injury claim.  Madam Justice Dardi rejected these arguments and awarded the Plaintiff $40,000 for her non-pecuniary damages.  In doing so the Court provided the following useful comments illustrating that objective signs are not necessary in a personal injury lawsuit:

[67]         The absence of objective physical findings is not determinative of whether Ms. Sandher continues to suffer from chronic pain. Since pain may well be a subjective phenomenon not easily measurable by independent objective indicia, the assessment of Ms. Sandher’s soft tissue injuries to a certain extent turns on the assessment of her subjective complaints and reported symptoms:  Szymanski v. Morin, 2010 BCSC 1 at para. 106; and Shapiro v. Dailey, 2010 BCSC 770 at para. 35.

[68] The defence contends that the minor damage to Ms. Sandher’s vehicle is inconsistent with the severity of her reported injuries. While evidence of vehicle damage is relevant to the assessment of injuries, ultimately the extent of her injuries is to be assessed on the evidence as a whole:  Robbie v. King, 2003 BCSC 1553 at para. 35….

[70] I accept the evidence of Ms. Sandher that her back and shoulder pain has not resolved. I reject the defence suggestion that she is exaggerating her symptoms to advance her litigation objectives; the evidence does not support such a finding. The overarching frustration and emotional distress she has experienced as a result of her persisting discomfort and pain was evident in her testimony. I find her complaints of continuing shoulder and back pain generally consistent with the surrounding circumstances and evidence…

[72]         On the totality of the evidence, I conclude that there is a realistic prospect for significant improvement in the foreseeable future, but there is also a realistic prospect that Ms. Sandher may never recover to her pre-accident levels of fitness.

[73]         In summary, having considered Ms. Sandher’s own evidence and all of the medical evidence, I conclude that as a result of the accident Ms. Sandher sustained soft tissue injuries to her shoulder and upper and lower back, and that these injuries have caused her pain and suffering. I accept that Ms. Sandher continues to experience pain from her injuries. I find on balance that there will be some continuing chronic pain suffered by Ms. Sandher in the future for an uncertain period of time….

[84] Having reviewed all of the authorities provided by both counsel, and in considering all of Ms. Sandher’s particular circumstances, I conclude that a fair and reasonable award for non-pecuniary damages is $40,000.

BC Court of Appeal: Hiring Multiple Lawyers not a Reasonable Disbursement


When a party succeeds in a BC Supreme Court lawsuit the losing party usually has to pay the winner’s ‘costs and disbursements‘.  Disbursements are the out of pocket expenses incurred in moving the lawsuit forward.  (common disbursements include Court filing fees and the costs of medical reports).
What if your case is complex and your lawyer needs to hire an additional lawyer to properly advance your case?  Is this extra legal expenses a reasonable disbursement?  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Court of Appeal addressing this topic.
In today’s case (Baiden v. Vancouver) the Plaintiff was injured at the hands of the Vancouver Police.  Before the matter could proceed to trial the Defendant’s raised a “s. 10 WCB Defence”.   A section 10 defence, when successful, prevents a plaintiff from suing in court where the Plaintiff is injured while acting within the scope and course  of his/her employment and the at fault entity is also a person or employer that caused the accident in the course of their employment.  In these circumstances the Plaintiff must turn to WCB for compensation.
Once this defence is raised, BC Courts cannot deal with its merits rather under s. 257 of the Workers Compensation Act the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) has the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the status of parties to a legal action.  This is frustrating to Plaintiffs because if this defence is pursued the lawsuit is basically put on hold, a hearing has to be had at WCAT, and only if the defence fails at WCAT can the Plaintiff carry on with their lawsuit.  That is exactly what happened in today’s case.
Before heading to WCAT the Plaintiff’s lawyer hired an additional lawyer to assist with the process.  Ultimately the WCAT hearing was successful for the Plaintiff and the case proceeded to trial.  After judgmenttThe trial judge awarded the Plaintiff $8,400 to compensate him for the additional fee of hiring a second lawyer to deal with the WCB issue.  (You can click here to read my article summarizing the trial judge’s reasons)
The Defendants appealed arguing that the judge was wrong in awarding this as a disbursements.  The BC Court of Appeal agreed with the Defendants and overturned the trial judge.  In doing so the BC High Court provided the following reasons making it clear that the expense of multiple lawyers will rarely be considered a reasonable disbursement:

[25]         The limited authority on this issue in this province supports the view that if counsel retains another lawyer to perform a specialized function due to his or her own lack of experience, it does not follow that such fees are recoverable from the opposing party, but remains a matter between the original lawyer and his client: Noble v. Wong, Bell v. Fantini (1981), 32 B.C.L.R. 322 (S.C.). That is a practical and appropriate approach, and should have been followed here. Outsourcing portions of legal work during litigation and then permitting recovery of that lawyer’s fees as a disbursement undermines the policy of party and party costs. While there may be cases in which this can be justified, they would be limited and exceptional.

[26]         This is not such a case. I would therefore allow the appeal, and set aside the order permitting Mr. Baiden to recover Mr. Ishkanian’s fees of $8,400 as a disbursement.

$75,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Ruptured Posterior Cruciate Ligament


Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Port Alberni Registry, awarding a Plaintiff just over $220,000 in total damages for injuries and loss sustained as a result of a 2007 BC motor vehicle collision.
In this week’s case (Haley v. Gust) the Plaintiff was operating her motorcycle when she was struck by a left-turning motorist.  The Defendant admitted full fault for the crash.  The trial focused on the extent of and value of the Plaintiff’s injuries.
The Plaintiff’s most serious injury was a tear to her posterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.  The injury was expected to lead to long term pain and limitations with the possibility of a total knee replacement in the years to come.  In awarding the Plaintiff $75,000 for her non-pecuniary damages Madam Justice Dardi made the following findings about the extent of the injury and it’s interference with the Plaintiff’s life:
[50] In summary, I find that the March 4, 2007 accident caused Ms. Haley permanent and significant injury to her left knee and the rupture of her PCL. I accept that surgical repair is not a viable option. I accept that she experiences pain on occasion and that the damage to the PCL may cause her knee to fail under stress or when she performs highly strenuous activity. I also accept that she faces a realistic prospect of developing osteoarthritis of the joint and of requiring a total knee replacement in the future…
[57] She is currently 38-years-old and has suffered a permanent injury to her knee. Her injuries, while not catastrophic, are very real. As a result of the accident she clearly has suffered pain and a loss of enjoyment of life, and she will no doubt continue to do so. As well, as referred to earlier, she faces the realistic prospect of osteoarthritis, and in Dr. Leete’s opinion, it is more likely than not that she will require a total knee replacement in 20 to 25 years….

60] While she attempts to remain as active as possible (she now participates in “quadding”), she remains limited when compared to her pre-accident activities. Since the accident, she has become very cautious about any activity that might injure her knee. She is no longer able to participate in mini-triathlons and dirt-biking with her family. She cannot ski or participate in water sports. It is likely she will continue to be restricted for the rest of her life to some degree in respect of the scope of the activities she would have enjoyed but for the accident.

[61] I have also considered as a factor in my assessment the adverse emotional impact of Ms. Haley’s inability to pursue a line of work which she clearly enjoyed…

[65] Having reviewed all of the authorities provided by both counsel, and in considering all of Ms. Haley’s particular circumstances, I conclude that a fair and reasonable award for non-pecuniary damages is $75,000.

Damaging Your Personal Injury Claim: Spying on Yourself


It’s a not so well-kept secret that Insurance Companies often hire private investigators to conduct video surveillance of people involved in personal injury claims.  Sometimes the efforts pay off in uncovering a fraudulent claim.  More often than not hours of bland video are produced doing little more than intruding on the privacy of an injured plaintiff.
These days, however, private investigators may play less of a role as many Plaintiffs are doing the surveillance work themselves. That’s right, Plaintiffs spy on themselves and hand the goods right over to the Insurance Company.
I’m talking about the liberal use of social media, specifically YouTube.  When you or a friend make a film and post it on YouTube chances are the video will be of better quality and give more intimate access to your life than anything a Private Investigator can put together.  PI’s often film from the bushes, a van or other less than ideal locations.  The videos produced are often grainy, distant and of poor quality.  Most videos uploaded to YouTube, on the other hand, are up close and personal.  These videos can give a lot of insight into a person’s life.
Whether or not these videos are damaging to your claim insurance companies are viewing them.  This information can either be directly used against you or will give the insurance company further avenues to pursue in trying to damage your personal injury claim.
The reality is that insurance companies are effectively using social media and uncovering a gold-mine of useful information in the process.  As I’ve previously written, the mere mention of ICBC on twitter will immediately bring you to their attention.  If you’re using social media be aware that your audience is bigger than you intend.

New Formal Settlement Offer Rule Gets First Judicial Interpretation


The first judgement that I’m aware of dealing with the new formal settlement offer rule (Rule 9) was released today by the BC Supreme Court.
In today’s case (Demarzo v. Michaud) the Plaintiff was injured in a BC motor vehicle collision.  He went to trial and was awarded $356,000 in total damages.  (you can click here to read my post summarizing the trial judgement).  Prior to trial the Plaintiff made a formal settlement offer to resolve the claim for $150,000.
Having comfortably beat his pre-trial settlement offer the Plaintiff asked the Court to exercise its discretion and award double costs under Rule 9-1 (Rule 9 reads almost identically to the old Rule 37B.  You can access my archived posts dealing with Rule 37B by clicking here).
Prior to trial the Plaintiff obtained various independent medical reports.  The Plaintiff served these on the Defendant in compliance with the rules of Court but not as quickly as possible.  In an interesting application of the new rule Mr. Justice Brown held that double costs should not be ordered if a party failed to make “timely disclosure of documents“.  Specifically the Court held as follows in refusing to award the Plaintiff double costs:

[18]         The main purpose of Rule 9-1 is to encourage parties to settle, early if possible. But the purposes of the Rule, and modern practice, assumes timely disclosure of documents and reports that would significantly affect a party’s ability to make a rational assessment of the litigation risks they face. While it is true the Rules of Court provide parties means to discover facts and the parties can conduct their own investigations to assess litigation risks, in my view it is also incumbent on a party expecting an order for double costs to show timely disclosure of documents and reports that would have significantly affected the other party’s assessment of whether the offer ought reasonably to be accepted.

[19]         Further, while evidence at trial produced a judgment that was more than double what the plaintiff offered to settle for, I note that the plaintiff’s credibility, tested on cross-examination, and the specialist reports served in October 2009 were important factors in the damages awarded.

[20]         Considering these factors, I find an award of double costs is not in keeping with the purposes of the Rule and I decline an award.

$5.9 Million Damage Assessment To Lawyer For Mild Traumatic Brain Injury


Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages of just over $5.9 million for injuries and losses sustained in a Dance Floor injury.
In today’s case (Danicek v. Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang) the Plaintiff lawyer was out at a lawfirm function in 2001.  After dinner some members of the Plaintiff’s firm went dancing at a nightclub in downtown Vancouver.  During the evening a fellow lawyer fell backwards while dancing.  During his fall he struck the Plaintiff causing her to fall as well.  The Plaintiff hit her head on the ground with enough force to knock her unconscious.  Liability was in issue however Mr. Justice Kelleher found the Defendant was impaired when he fell and that he was fully responsible for the incident.
The Plaintiff suffered a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) the consequences of which were expected to never fully recover.  The court found that the Plaintiff would likely never work competitively as a lawyer again and awarded over $5 million for her diminished earning capacity.  Mr. Justice Kellehar also awarded the Plaintiff $185,000 for her non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life).  In reaching this figure the Court made the following findings about the severity and extent of the Plaintiff’s brain injury:

227]     I find Ms. Danicek suffered a mild, traumatic brain injury in the April 6, 2001 accident. It has had a profound effect on her life. She was completely disabled from work until December 2001. As Dr. Anderson notes in his report dated January 26, 2007, the mild traumatic brain injury has resulted in ongoing post-concussive symptoms, which include physical, cognitive, and emotional difficulties.

[228]     Her headache pain has persisted and persists today, some nine years after the accident. The post-traumatic headaches have resulted in the plaintiff developing chronic pain disorder. Dr. Anderson notes that chronic pain disorder “causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.” …

[229] The medical evidence suggests that the plaintiff is not likely to completely or even substantially recover from these symptoms….

230]     Dr. Robinson noted that persons who suffer from severe headache disorders similar to the plaintiff’s condition are not likely to realize substantial improvements with the available treatments.

[231]     Dr. Anderson does not consider it likely that the plaintiff’s chronic pain disorder will meaningfully improve…

[232] In addition to the headaches and pain disorder, I accept that the dance accident caused some measure of cognitive impairment. Ms. Danicek felt that before the accident she was quick to understand new concepts. Today, she feels that, in her words, everyone gets it except her….

254]     The dance accident has impacted the plaintiff’s life profoundly. She has lost much. She has had and continues to have headaches of varying severity and duration. The injury has affected her physical and mental abilities and had a significant impact on her relationship with Mr. Schober.

[255]     The plaintiff has experienced a loss of enjoyment of life, and is unable to engage in many recreational activities. Her lifestyle has drastically changed since the dance accident.

[256]     An example of the effect of the dance accident on the plaintiff’s life is found in the evidence of her friend, Kristen Schneider. Prior to the accident, Ms. Schneider described the plaintiff as having “the most energy I think out of anybody I know”. At trial, Ms. Schneider testified that after the dance accident, Ms. Danicek was unable to consistently make their customary lunch dates; when she did, they had to find restaurants that were quiet to avoid exacerbating her headaches.

[257]     Additionally, she and the plaintiff no longer regularly go for runs, rollerblade, or hike the Grouse Grind, as was their habit prior to the dance accident.

[258]     Ms. Danicek is no longer able to pursue her career as a corporate solicitor working on “big deals”, a position she worked hard to obtain. The plaintiff enjoyed this work and her career was a source of pride for her. I accept this loss has negatively affected her feelings of self-worth and emotional well-being. In Reference Re Public Service Employee Relations Act (Alta.), [1987] 1 S.C.R. 313, Dickson C.J. (in dissent) stated at 368:

Work is one of the most fundamental aspects in a person’s life, providing the individual with a means of financial support and, as importantly, a contributory role in society. A person’s employment is an essential component of his or her sense of identity, self-worth and emotional well-being.

[259]     It is clear the plaintiff continues to suffer from her injuries, and her problems are likely to continue in the future without substantial improvement or resolution. Her prognosis for recovery or diminishment of her chronic headaches and pain is not good.

[260]     While individual judgments turn very much on their particular facts, two decisions which have influenced me are Reilly v. Lynn, 2000 BCSC 360, varied on other grounds, 2003 BCCA 49, leave to appeal ref’d [2003] S.C.C.A. No. 221, and Adamson v. Charity, 2007 BCSC 671.

[261]     In the circumstances, an award of $185,000 is appropriate.

Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

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.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
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