Tag: icbc and failure to mitigate

$20,000 Awarded for Lingering Whiplash Injury

Reasons for judgement were released today compensating a Plaintiff as a result of a 2005 BC car crash.
It was a rear-end accident. The Plaintiff was a passenger. In such cases fault is rarely at issue and here the ICBC defence lawyers admitted fault on behalf of the Defendant. The trial dealt only with the issue of quantum of damages (how much the injuries are worth).
The accident caused the Plaintiff to miss 2 weeks from work. When she returned her physical duties at work were somewhat limited. She took 14 physiotherapy sessions and saw her family physician several times after the accident.
The court’s relevant finding as to the extent of injury can be found at paragraph 64 of the judgement where the court held that:
[64] The evidence indicates to me that the plaintiff had an initial soft tissue injury to her neck and upper back and she substantially recovered approximately five months after the injuries, although the injuries to her upper back and shoulder area have lingered on to the point where Dr. Yong says they may last another one or two years.
$20,000 was awarded for the Plaintiff’s pain and suffering. No other damages were awarded although a claim for ‘loss of earning capacity’ was advanced.
As is often the case in ICBC claims that proceed to trial, here the defence lawyer argued that the Plaintiff’s award should be reduced for ‘failure to mitigate’. What this means is that if a person unreasonably fails to follow medical advice and following such advice would have made a difference the amount of compensation awarded can be reduced.
Mr. Justice Truscott refused to reduce the Plaintiff’s damages even though the evidence established that she ‘did not do all of her home exercises and id not take physiotherapy when she had asked for it‘.
Why was this evidence not good enough to reduce the Plaintiff’s damages? Because there was no medical evidence that had the Plaintiff followed this course of treatment that her injuries would have recovered any better than they had.  This case is a good example of the fact that the defence has the burden of proof when arguing ‘failure to mitigate‘ in an ICBC claim and that expert medical evidence should be tendered to discharge this burden when addressing the effects of a rehabilitation program.

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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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