Short clear reasons for judgment were released by Mr. Justice Savage of the BC Supreme Court yesterday awarding a Plaintiff compensation for car accident related headaches.
This is one of the crispest judgements I have read in quite some time. I recommend reading the full judgment for anyone advancing an ICBC pain and suffering claim for headaches as the issues are succinct in this case and it does not get bogged down in legalese.
The Plaintiff was injured when she was 4 years old. She was in a proper infant car seat in her family van when it was broadsided by the defendant who failed to stop at a stop sign. The accident was in 2002 and the claim finally went to trial in 2008. For those of you not well versed in ICBC injury claims I should point out that there is nothing unusual about this timeline. In infant injury claims in BC, most limitation periods are delayed until the infant’s 19th birthday. One of the reasons for this is because doctors often can’t give a prognosis for an infant’s injuries until they reach adulthood.
In this case most of the Plaintiff’s injuries were not disputed. She suffered from a broken tooth, some injury to her legs which healed in a few months, soft tissue injuries to her neck and back which took about one year to heal.
What was at issue was headaches. The Plaintiff claimed that she had on-going headaches over 5 years after the accident and that these were caused by the accident. The defendant said there are other potential causes for the headaches such as migraines or other trauma. It is worth pointing out that such a ‘causation’ argument is typical in most ICBC injury claims that go to trial. Usually the court hears competing theories about the extent of injury and the cause of injury. (click here to see an example of just how far apart 2 sides can be in an ICBC injury case involving headaches)
The court accpeted that the ongoing headaches were indeed caused by the accident and summarized the accident related injuries as follows: “very mild injuries post-accident that have completely resolved with ongoing significant but somewhat sporadic headaches continuing requiring the occasional use of Tylenol.”
Mr. Justice Savage noted that the headaches have persisted for some six years althogh there has been some improvement. He went on to value the non-pecuniary loss (pain and suffering) for these headaches at $35,000.