I’ve previously posted that when a Plaintiff in a BC Supreme Court Lawsuit is awarded damages in the Small Claims Court Jurisdiction ($25,000 or less) the Plaintiff is usually not permitted to court ‘costs’.
This is so because Rule 57(10) of the Supreme Court Rules holds that:
A plaintiff who recovers a sum within the jurisdiction of the Provincial Court under the Small Claims Act is not entitled to costs, other than disbursements, unless the court finds that there is sufficient reason for bringing the proceeding in the Supreme Court and so orders.
Today, reasons for judgement were released by the BC Supreme Court dealing with this section and the issue of when there is ‘sufficient reason for bringing a proceeding in the Supreme Court.’
In today’s case (Munro v. Thompson) the Plaintiff was awarded just over $12,000 for injuries sustained in a 2006 BC Car Crash. The Defendant was apparently insured by ICBC and subject to ICBC’s Low Velocity Impact Defence.
The Plaintiff brought application seeking court ‘costs’. He argued as follows:
 The plaintiff says that “sufficient reason” is to be considered as at the time of commencement of proceedings: Riemann v. Aziz  BCCA 448.
 He says that at the date of commencement of the action, he had in hand the reports of two medical experts. The conclusion arising from those is that it was a moderate/severe whiplash injury impacting on his future vocational capabilities, indicating a loss of capacity claim.
 In these circumstances, counsel for the plaintiff contends there was good reason to bring his action in this court as opposed to the Small Claims division of the Provincial Court.
The defence lawyer argued that the Plaintiff should be deprived of ‘costs’ because the Plaintiff only recovered half of what could have been awarded in Small Claims Court therefore the Plaintiff should have started the lawsuit there.
In accepting the Plaintiff’s position Mr. Justice Williams applied the law as follows:
 In order to determine the merit of the plaintiff’s claim for costs, it is necessary to examine whether he has shown that there was sufficient reason to have justified the decision to commence the proceeding in the Supreme Court.
 Both parties accept that to be the correct analysis. As well, both agree that the point in time at which the assessment is to be made is when the action in initiated.
 In this case, plaintiff’s counsel had in hand the reports of two medical practitioners when he commenced the proceeding. The report of Dr. Paterson, a treating chiropractor, concluded that the plaintiff’s symptoms of neck pain and stiffness, headaches, left shoulder pain and weakness are the result of a Grade III whiplash (moderate/severe) that he sustained in his July 6, 2006 motor vehicle accident. …
 There was also a medical-legal opinion from Dr. Condon….
26] Based on those opinions, it was not unreasonable for the plaintiff’s counsel to conclude that the action should be commenced in the Supreme Court. The evidence indicated the likelihood of a viable claim for loss of future earning capacity as well as a not-insignificant claim for general damages. Taking that into account, I am not prepared to find that his decision to bring the claim as he did was improper: he had sufficient reason to proceed as he did when the writ was filed….
32] In the result, there is no basis to find that he deliberately misrepresented his situation to the doctors. I stand by my conclusion that there was sufficient reason for bringing this proceeding in the Supreme Court, and reject the argument that he should be disentitled to the benefit of that finding because of his own conduct.
On another note, I posted yesterday about the new BC Supreme Court Civil Rules which come into force next year. I have referenced these and it appears that the law as set out in Rule 57(10) of the current rules remains in place in the New Rules. The relevant provision is set out in Rule 14-1(10) of the new Civil Rules. The language there is identical to the current Rule 57(10) so precedents such as this case should remain good law after the new rules take effect.
(Image created by and used with permission of High Impact)
I usually focus my ICBC case law reports on cases from the BC Supreme Court and BC Court of Appeal but reasons for judgement were recently released from the Provincial Court of BC (commonly referred to as Small Claims Court) which caught my eye.
The Plaintiff was involved in a rear-end crash in May 2005. From the judgement it appears to me to be a claim that fit ICBC’s Low Velocity Impact criteria (LVI) where ICBC takes the position that no compensable tort claim exists.
The Plaintiff’s vehicle sustained little damage. The evidence presented by the Plaintiff, her husband and her doctor was ‘fairly consistent’ and the court accepted that the Plaintiff suffered a ‘whiplash injury’ to her neck and back.
The court made the following findings “I accept that there is a four month injury from start to finish with approximately two months off work. On those facts, it is my standard view and backed up by a number of cases, which oddly enough comes in directly between what the claimant puts forward way up at the upper end and what the defendant puts forward way down at the lower end, my view of this has been throughout coming towards the figure of $10,000 and that is the figure that I do award“.
The Plaintiff was also awarded her lost wages and special damages (out of pocket accident related expenses).
This judgement was only 3 pages long which is unusual for an ICBC personal injury case and makes for very easy reading. I can’t find this judgment on the BC Provincial Court website but will post a link to the judgement if it becomes published. This case shows how well suited the Provincial Court can be in some circumstances in dealing with ICBC injury claims involving minimal injuries which resolve quickly.
After a summary trial on June 23, 2008 pursuant to Rule 18-A (a rule that lets certain cases proceed to trial using affidavit’s as evidence instead of requiring the parties and witnesses to testify in person in court) reasons for judgement were released today awarding a Plaintiff $12,250.10 in compensation as a result of a 2005 Vancouver car crash.
This is another LVI case. The Plaintiff’s 1995 Honda Civic was rear-ended by a Ford F150 pickup truck. It was apparent that ‘this was a low impact collision’.
Many BC residents have received letters from ICBC telling them their claim has been denied based on ICBC’s LVI policy often referred to as ‘no-crash no cash’.
As is often the case, here the claim was brought to trial and the court recognized that an injury occurred despite the absence of significant vehicle damage. In reaching this conclusion Mr. Justice Williams made some useful comments about LVI crashes, specifically:
 This was undoubtedly a low velocity collision where damage to the vehicles was so minimal as to be almost non-existent. All of the evidence supports that conclusion. In such instances, claims for compensation for injury are often resisted on the basis that there is reason to doubt their legitimacy. Furthermore, in this case the principal evidence in support of the plaintiff’s claim is subjective, that is, it is her self-report. There is not a great deal of objective evidence to support her description of the injuries she claims to have suffered.
 In response to those concerns, I would observe that there is no principle of law which says that because the damage to the vehicles is slight or non-detectable, that it must follow that there is no injury. Certainly, as a matter of common sense, where the collision is of slight force, any injury is somewhat likely at least to be less severe than in a situation where the forces were greater, such as to result in significant physical damage to the automobiles. Nevertheless, I do not accept that there can be no injury where there is no physical damage to the vehicles.
The court went on to find that the Plaintiff suffered injuries as follows:
 I find that the plaintiff is an honest witness and accept her evidence of the event and its consequences. On all the evidence, I conclude that the plaintiff was injured in the collision and that she experienced moderate discomfort in the first two or three months following the accident. With the passage of time, she made a steady and gradual recovery, although there was some ongoing but lessening discomfort over the following months. Fortunately for her, the degree of pain was not especially great, although it undoubtedly detracted from her everyday comfort and full enjoyment of life. To some degree, she experienced frustration and impatience with the way she felt. There is a paucity of evidence with respect to details of disruptions or difficulties that the injuries caused in her day to day routine.
$9,000 was awarded for pain and suffering, $2,031 for lost wages when she took time off work ‘to enable her to recover from her injuries’ and $1,219.10 in special damages (accident related out of pocket expenses).