Tag: icbc lvi

More on ICBC Injury Claims and the LVI Defence

I’ve blogged and written many times about ICBC’s Low Velocity Impact Program (LVI) and today Mr. Justice Williams shared his opinions about the so called LVI defence.
In today’s case (Munro v. Thompson) the Plaintiff suffered a whiplash injury in a 2006 motor vehicle collision.  The Court found that the impact was indeed quite minimal when considering the vehicle damage.  In awarding $9,000 for the Plaintiff’s injuries (which the court found largely resolved several months following the collision) Mr. Justice Williams summarized the law as it related to Low Impact Collisions as follows:

[50]            The issue of the legitimacy of injury claims arising from accidents in which property damage is very minor is one that comes before the court not infrequently.

[51]            The accident at bar was 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 his self-report.  There is not a great deal of objective evidence to support his description of the injuries he claims to have suffered.

[52]            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, it is probably more likely that resulting injuries will be less severe than where the forces were greater, such as to result in significant physical damage to the automobiles.  However, I would not hold that out as a reliable thesis, but rather a statement of very general expectation. Suffice to say, I do not accept that there can be no injury where there is no physical damage to the vehicles.

[53]            With respect to the lack of objective evidence of physical injury and ongoing symptoms, it is well accepted that the court must be cautious in assessing the evidence.  The determination must be made in a way that the outcome will be fair to both the plaintiff and the defendant.

[54]            The plaintiff, to succeed in his claim, must establish on a balance of probabilities that this incident caused injury to him, and that those injuries entitle him to an award of compensatory damages against the defendant.

[55]            I am satisfied in this case that Mr. Munro was injured as a consequence of the accident, notwithstanding its apparently minor nature.  Accordingly, it is necessary to determine the extent of the effect of those injuries on him and the quantum of the damages to which he is entitled.

If you are injured by the fault of another in a BC Car Crash and ICBC tells you that your crash fits their LVI criteria therefore you suffered no compensable injuries its worth reviewing cases like this.  ICBC’s LVI policy is not the law, it is simply a corporate policy that has no legal force.  If you were injured in a car crash through the fault of another in BC your rights to make a tort claim are not diminished any because of the amount of vehicle damage. 

ICBC Injury Claims, the Low Velocity Impact Program, and Human Rights in BC

Interesting reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court dealing with ICBC’s Low Velocity Impact Program (LVI Program) and Human Rights complaints.
The respondent was involved in a motor vehicle collision 2004.  This collision fell into ICBC’s LVI program and they defended the claim of the Plaintiff in accordance with that LVI program that ICBC had in place at the time.  Mr. Justice Wilson, summarized the program as follows:

[5]                On 12 March 2004, Mr. Yuan was involved in a road traffic incident.  A vehicle driven by another motorist collided with the rear end of Mr. Yuan’s vehicle while Mr. Yuan was stopped at a red light.  The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia is the liability carrier for the other motorist.

[6]                It appears to be common ground that, in addition to a contractual duty the Corporation had to its insured other motorist, to adjust this claim, there was a statutory duty the Corporation owed to Mr. Yuan to adjust the claim.  Mr. Yuan did make a claim for personal injuries he alleged he received as a result of the incident.  The Corporation, therefore, commenced its adjustment of Mr. Yuan’s claim.

[7]                At all material times, the Corporation had a policy, among others, based upon an analysis of the physical forces generated by the collision of motor vehicles.  The Corporation determined that in the ordinary course of events, a collision which resulted from a deceleration of less than eight kilometres per hour would not cause damage or injury to human tissue.  That was a rebuttable presumption.  But if a collision was determined by the Corporation to involve what is called a “low velocity impact” phenomena, then it was adjusted according to, among other things, an expedited procedure.

[8]                In this case, the Corporation did determine that the collision involved a low velocity impact between the two motorcars.  Accordingly, Mr. Yuan’s claim was assigned to the procedures and practices applicable for low velocity impact claims.  It is a part of the policies and practices that once the matter is precipitated into this low velocity impact procedure, that the adjuster go about determining whether or not there is information or evidence that will rebut the presumption.  That is to say, could the injury complained of be plausibly caused by the collision.

[9]                In this case, the Corporation determined that there was no information which rebutted the presumption at the time of the investigation and on 4 May 2004, the Corporation’s representative informed Mr. Yuan by letter that the Corporation would not consider any payments with respect to his claim against its insured for injuries arising from the incident.

The Respondent brought a human rights complaint alleging that the LVI program constituted ‘discriminatory practice‘.
ICBC brought a motion to dismiss the human rights complaint on the basis that the complaint was filed out of time and that ‘the complaint had no reasonable prospect for success‘.
The Human Rights Tribunal dismissed ICBC’s application.  ICBC appealed to the BC Supreme Court.  Mr. Justice Wilson agreed with ICBC and concluded that the Respondent’s application had no reasonable prospect of success.  His key findings were made at 46-52 which I reproduce below:

[46]            As the tribunal said in Ingram, there would have to be some allegation that the complainant “has been discriminated against on the basis of disability in order for a potentially valid human rights complaint to exist.  In other words, a complainant must allege facts that, if proven, would establish that they have been in some way adversely affected by reason of their disability.”  The member did not do that analysis.  I do.  There is no evidence that Mr. Yuan had his claim adjusted under the low velocity impact guidelines because he was physically or mentally disabled.  Indeed, the member found that any information or evidence with respect to his then existing state of health was not relevant to his considerations.

[47]            Second, the information before me, which was the same as the information before the member, is that Mr. Yuan was placed into the low velocity impact adjustment guidelines because the Corporation determined that the collision was a low velocity impact type.  It had nothing to do with any physical or mental characteristic of Mr. Yuan.

[48]            Third, there is no evidence of specifically how this particular method of adjusting a claim adversely affects Mr. Yuan.  The evidence is clear.  The complaint was received.  The determination was made that it was a low velocity impact.  Inquiries were made into the nature of the injury complained of, and a determination was made that it was implausible that this kind of a collision would cause the injuries complained of.  It was simply a matter of causation.  Based on the analysis the Corporation had done, it made a rebuttal presumption that there probably would not be injury to human tissue in the ordinary course of events, but if there was evidence to rebut the presumption, it was open to the complainant to bring that evidence forward.  Which Mr. Yuan eventually did do.

[49]            This complainant, Mr. Yuan, will not be able to establish that this Corporation put him into the low velocity impact adjustment process on the basis of his physical or mental disability or on the basis that it perceived him to be not disabled.  Therefore, I conclude that there is no reasonable prospect that his complaint against the Corporation will succeed under s. 27(1)(c) of theHuman Rights Code.

[50]            What the member did, however, as I say, was to set up a straw man.  What he said was, Mr. Yuan is treated differently because the Corporation perceives that he is not, or is less likely to be, injured or disabled.  So what attracts s. 8, according to the member, is not that there is discrimination against Mr. Yuan because of physical or mental disability but, rather, Mr. Yuan is discriminated against because the Corporation perceives him to not be physically or mentally disabled.

[51]            I agree with Ms. Westmacott.  That is to tip the analysis on its head.  To accept that notion seems to me to pound another nail into the coffin of common sense.

[52]            Those are my reasons.

I don’t write this post to support ICBC’s LVI program in any way.  I strive to have this blog comment on all ICBC cases of interest whether or not the results are pro Plaintiff or pro ICBC.  In my opinion the LVI program is designed to minimize claims costs and has little connection to whether or not injuries occur in a collision.  
Our courts deal with ICBC LVI claims frequently and the LVI archives of this website provide a good glimpse into how BC courts deal with LVI tort claims.  Nonetheless, this is an interesting judgement dealing with the unique allegation that the LVI program is somehow discriminatory. 

Small Claims Court Awards $10,000 for 4 month Soft Tissue Injury ICBC Claim

 (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.

Another ICBC LVI Trial, Another Award for Pain and Suffering

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:

[18] 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.

[19] 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:
[21] 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).

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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.

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