Tag: Madam Justice Boyd

Motorist with Right of Way Found 40% at Fault For Intersection Crash

UPDATE – June 12, 2013 -the below decisions addressing liability was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal.  The matter was set back to the trial judge, however, because the BCCA concluded the trial judge made a palpable error when assessing damages)
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As discussed earlier this week, having the right of way is only one factor which determines fault for a collision.  A motorist with the right of way still needs to maintain a proper lookout otherwise they can share fault for a collision.  This was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, in the context of an intersection crash.
In this week’s case (Sangha v. Chen) the Plaintiff was driving northbound on Willow Street in Vancouver, BC.  As he entered an intersection the Defendant, who was faced with a stop sign, came through a side street resulting in a collision.

Although the Plaintiff had the right of way both motorists were found at fault.  In assessing fault at a 60/40 split Madam Justice Boyd provided the following reasons:

[34]In the case at bar, I am satisfied that Chen stopped at the stop sign, that she moved forward to check for northbound traffic and that, finding there was none, she began to move out into the intersection.  Unfortunately from that point forward she simply proceeded forward in her slow course across the intersection, without keeping any continuing lookout for oncoming northbound traffic.  Chen did not, therefore, become the dominant driver.  While she stopped and yielded to traffic, she failed to proceed with caution.  This was also a breach of her common law duty to other users of the highways because she clearly failed to meet the standard of care as set out by Lambert J.A. in Carich v. Cook: “care should be taken throughout the turn and as each new lane is entered to make sure that the situation as it was assessed when the turn started has not changed in the meantime”.

[35]For his part, I am satisfied that the plaintiff was likely travelling over 30-40 kph, although perhaps still within the speed limit.  Contrary to his evidence, I find that at the last moment, he did (perhaps even unconsciously) see the defendant’s vehicle and did slam on the brakes momentarily (accounting for the initial jerking motion Dr. Temple experienced).  While he could not avoid hitting the defendant’s vehicle (which by this time was in his lane of traffic), his vehicle effectively came to a stop on impact, although rotating somewhat to the right in a counter-clockwise direction.

[36]While the plaintiff may have remained the dominant driver, he had a duty to exercise reasonable care even if those around him did not respect his dominant position.  He clearly did not exercise reasonable care as he failed to keep a proper lookout.  The fact the defendant proceeded slowly across the intersection and that the collision occurred on the far side of the intersection convince me he should have seen the plaintiff earlier.  Had he kept a proper lookout he would have seen her vehicle earlier than he did and thus could have applied his brakes to avoid the collision.  But he had not kept a proper lookout and the accident ensued.

[37]In determining the division of liability, the court is to consider the relative responsibilities of the parties for the accident: Salaam, para. 35-38.  This is not a case similar to Amador, Ryonand Salaam where one driver saw the other and made a decision to proceed in a certain manner, while the other driver failed to see them and keep clear.  Here, neither driver saw the other prior to impact when the circumstances are clear that they should have.  Liability must therefore be shared more evenly.  That being said, while both parties failed to keep a proper lookout, and failed to see what was there to be seen, the defendant, as the servient driver, had a higher standard of care and the plaintiff, to a certain extent, was permitted to expect servient drivers to respect his dominant position.  Thus the negligence of Chen contributed more to the accident than that of the plaintiff.

[38]In all the circumstances I find that the defendant is primarily liable for this collision.  In this case, I would divide liability 60% against the defendant and 40% against the plaintiff.

BC Government Shielded From Liability in "Shaken Baby" Lawsuit

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, discussing when a government authority can be pursued for damages for the negligent excercise of their powers.
In last week’s case (Sivertson (Guardian ad litem of) v. Dutrisac) the infant Plaintiff was brain injured allegedly “while in the care of…a licensed daycare ‘Kare Bare Child Care’ “.  The Plaintiff sued various Defendants including the Capital Health Region “CHR” who were responsible for licensing the Daycare in question.
The CHR brought an application to dismiss the lawsuit against them arguing that even if they inadequately exercised their duties the lawsuit could not succeed because the CHR did not owe the Plaintiff a ‘private law duty of care‘.  Madam Justice Boyd agreed and dismissed the lawsuit against the CHR.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
[51] The overall statutory scheme governing the licensing of daycare facilities provides an efficient framework to ensure the operation of community care facilities “in a manner that will maintain the spirit, dignity and individuality of the person being cared for “(s. 4(1)(a)(i)). …

[57] As in the Cooper decision, the CHR and its inspectors must balance a myriad of competing interests when dealing with the licensing and inspection of daycares, including the daycare owner’s interest in the continued operation of her business and the parents’ and the public’s interest in the protection of children in the care of the daycare owner.

[58] In my view, this balancing of interests is inconsistent with the imposition of a private duty of care.  Thus, on a review of all of the authorities, and a consideration of the legislation in issue, I reject the notion that any private law duty of care was owed by the CHR (and its employees) to the infant plaintiff and his family.

[59] If however I am in error, and it is found that such a private duty of law does arise in the circumstances of this case, then I nevertheless find that the application of the second stage of theAnns test yields no different result.  As the Ontario Court of Appeal held in Williams v. Canada (Attorney General), 2009 ONCA 378, at para. 17, at the second stage :

…the court considers whether there are “residual policy considerations” that militate against recognizing a novel duty of care.  …These are policy considerations that “are not concerned with the relationship between the parties, but with the effect of recognizing a duty of care on other legal obligations, the legal system and society more generally”.

[60] In my view, any private law duty of care which may arise in this case would be negated for overriding policy reasons as in the Cooper case.  This is because (i) the licensing officers were exercising both policy and quasi-judicial functions such that any decision required the balancing of both public and private interests.  The Director must act fairly or judicially in removing an operator’s license and this is potentially inconsistent with a duty of care to children and families; (ii) the Director must make difficult discretionary decisions in an area of public policy.  His decisions are made within the limits of the powers conferred on him in the public interest; and (iii) if there was a private duty of care owed by the Director to the children and parents, it would effectively create an insurance scheme for all those children attending licensed daycares within the Province, at great costs to the taxpaying public.  As the Court held in Edwards, there is no indication here that the Legislature intended that result.  Indeed the statutory immunity from liability provision suggests the contrary.

Jury Notice Struck in Complex "Shaken Baby" Case


Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, striking a Jury Notice in a complex “shaken baby” case.
In this week’s case (Sivertson (Guardian ad litem of) v. Dutrisac) the Plaintiff claimed damages “for a brain injury suffered on June 11, 2001 while in the care of the defendant Dutrisac who was the owner and operator of a licensed daycare… The plaintiffs allege that the defendant Dutrisac was negligent in her care of the infant plaintiff, resulting in his fall to the floor where he struck his head and suffered a brain injury.  They claim that following the initial injury, Dutrisac further exacerbated that injury when she allegedly shook or jostled the infant so as to have him remain conscious.  The plaintiffs’ claim against the CHR is that it was negligent in its ongoing inspections of the daycare facility and in continuing to license that facility notwithstanding a number of complaints made by various parents over the weeks and months preceding the infant plaintiff’s injury.”
The Defendants brought an application pursuant to Rule 12-6(5) to strike the Plaintiff’s Jury Notice.  Madam Justice Boyd agreed that the case was not appropriate for a Jury to preside over and granted the application.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[16] Having considered the submissions of counsel and having reviewed the many expert reports which have been filed, I find that there are a plethora of elements in this case which raise issues of both complexity and intricacy.  The trial will be long.  It will involve two sets of defendants, each involving different standards of care.  The CHR defendants’ duty of care will be particularly complex to determine, given the statutory scheme and whether or not that scheme negates any private duty of care.

[17] However most complex of all will be the issues concerning the causation of the infant plaintiff’s brain injury, whether there was any pre-existing brain injury, and what damages may be attributed to the pre-existing brain injury, if any.  The determination of these issues will require that the jury consider and weigh the conflicting and highly complex evidence of a number of different medical experts from a number of different specialties.

[18] At the heart of this debate will be the central theme of the “shaken baby syndrome”, since, even on the basis of the plaintiffs’ expert’s amended opinion, the acceleration/deceleration theory of injury is advanced regarding the jostling of the child, following the initial fall.  As Mr. Lindsay has pointed out, the Shaken Baby Syndrome or the acceleration/deceleration mechanism of injury remains one of the most highly debated areas in the field of forensic pathology.  The debate continues to rage in the medical and scientific community concerning these types of injuries in infant children.  In this regard, I take particular note of the comments of Chief Judge Crabtree of the British Columbia Provincial Court in British Columbia (Director of Child, Family and Community Service v. Z.B., 2011 BCPC 0072.

[19] I must note that while I have treated this application to strike the jury notice as a joint defence application, in fact, in my companion ruling I have already dismissed the action against the CHR.  In my view this does not result in any different ruling regarding the striking of the jury notice.

[20] On a consideration of all of these issues, but most particularly the medical and scientific evidence to be weighed, I find it is completely unrealistic to believe that even a well instructed, intelligent jury would be able to cope with the determination of all the issues here.  Thus I exercise my discretion under the rule and order that the jury notice be struck in this case.

$25,000 For "Mild to Moderate" Lingering Soft Tissue Injuries

Adding to this ever-growing British Columbia non-pecuniary damages (pain and suffering) caselaw database, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing a claim involving lingering soft tissue injuries.
In today’s case (Manson v. Kalar) the Plaintiff was involved in a rear-end collision in 2008.  The crash was fairly significant resulting in over $5,000 in damage to the Plaintiff’s vehicle.  Fault for the collision was admitted focusing the trial on the value of the claim.
Madam Justice Boyd ultimately found that the Plaintiff suffered mild-moderate soft tissue injuries and that while these were on-going some three years after the fact there was still room for improvement.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $25,000 the Court provided the following reasons:
[38]The plaintiff here has suffered injuries which are limited to his lower back and neck.  He has pursued very little treatment for his injuries and, despite his doctor’s recommendations, he has not attended few physiotherapy treatments or undertaken any core muscle conditioning programs.  Nevertheless it is expected that he will recover in the foreseeable future.  As I have already noted, while I satisfied that his ongoing pain and discomfort has limited his participation in his former sporting activities, some of his social withdrawal appears to be the result of other factors. ..
[46]In the case at bar, the plaintiff has suffered a mild to moderate soft tissue injuries, where the symptoms have persisted for almost three years since the accident and are still not resolved.  In these circumstances, I find that a fair and reasonable award of damages is $25,000.
For more on this topic you can click here to access my archived posts of other recent BC court cases dealing with damages for soft tissue injuries.

$70,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages Assessment for Chronic Shoulder Tendonitis


Reasons for judgement were released earlier this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, awarding damages for injuries and loss flowing from a BC motor vehicle collision.
In this week’s case (Garcha v. Duenas) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2007 collision.  He was a passenger in a truck which was struck when the Defendant “made a sudden left hand turn across (the Plaintiff’s vehicles) path“.  Fault for the crash was admitted focusing the trial on the value of the Plaintiff’s claim.
The Plaintiff suffered various injuries, many of which recovered by the time of trial.  One injury unfortunately lingered on, specifically tendonitis in his shoulders.   This inflammation caused pain which limited the Plaintiff domestically, recreationally and vocationally.  The symptoms were not expected to improve with time.  In valuing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $70,000 Madam Justice Boyd made the following findings:
[53] Dr. Parhar holds the opinion that since the accident the plaintiff has been suffering the ongoing effects of a shoulder tendonitis, that is an inflammation of the shoulder tendons, resulting from the acute trauma suffered at the time of the motor vehicle accident.  I note here that on cross examination, Dr. Tarazi also opined that the right shoulder complaints were likely related to the injuries suffered in the motor vehicle accident.  Even if the injury was related to repetitive movements, he believed that this was due to the fact that due to his injuries, the plaintiff was likely posturally over- compensating in some way, thus giving rise to the shoulder complaints.  In the absence of the motor vehicle injuries, he doubted the shoulder complaints would have arisen. ..
[58] On a review of all the evidence I am satisfied the plaintiff has proven on a balance of probabilities that his continuing complaints are legitimate and that they are indeed causally related to the injuries suffered at the time of this motor vehicle accident…
[67] Considering all of the evidence, I find that an appropriate award of general damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life is $70,000…
[78] In the end result, I am satisfied the plaintiff has proven that he is now permanently partially disabled.  Adopting the opinion of Dr. Parhar, I am satisfied that given the activation of his osteoarthritis, his condition will likely worsen over time.
For more on this topic you can click here to access my archived posts of other recent BC Court Cases assessing damages for shoulder injuries

ICBC Injury Claims, Settlement Offers, Rule 37B, Sanderson Orders…

Where to begin…
Important reasons for judgement (Burdett v. Mohamed) were released on Friday by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry addressing a host of topics in the context of BC personal injury litigation.
By way of background the Plaintiff was a passenger in a 2002 motor vehicle accident.  She was riding in a vehicle operated by Mr. Mohamed and this vehicle collided with a vehicle operated by a Mr. Samuel.
The Plaintiff suffered various injuries including a traumatic brain injury.
The Defendant Mohamed was charged with Dangerous Driving and was deemed to be in breach of his insurance policy.  Accordingly, ICBC, Mr. Mohamed’s insurer defended the claim as a ‘statutory third party.’
There was reason to believe that Mohamed was solely responsible for the collision however the Plaintiff’s lawyer sued both Mohamed and Samuel.  The reason being was concern about limited insurance coverage.  Mohamed only had $1 million in insurance coverage.  The Plaintiff was not the only injured party and when sharing this money with the other claimants the Plaintiff was concerned she would be significantly undercompensated if this was the extent of her recovery.
ICBC made an offer to the various claimants to “get together to divide among themselves the $1,000,000 third party liability (coverage).”   This offer was not accepted and the Plaintiff proceeded to trial.
Prior to trial the Plaintiff made a formal offer to settle her claim against Mohamed for $1.5 million.  The Defendant Samuel made a formal offer to the Plaintiff to ‘walk away’ on a costs free basis.  After a lengthy trial the case against Samuel was dismissed, the Jury found Mohamed responsible for the Plaintiff’s injuries and the Plaintiff 20% contributorily negligent for her own injuries.   After this reduction in liability the Plaintiff was awarded over $1.8 million in damages.
The Court was asked to decide, amongst other things, whether the Plaintiff should be awarded double costs against Mohamed, whether Samuel should be awarded double costs against the Plaintiff and whether the Mohamed should pay to Samuel any costs the Plaintiff is exposed to.
Rule 37B – Is it reasonable to go to trial for a claim exceeding the Defendants insurance coverage?
The Plaintiff was awarded double costs for beating her formal offer of settlement against Mohamed.  In coming to this decision the Court had to grapple with an area of law that is still open to debate, specifically, when considering whether to award double costs can a court consider the insurance coverage available to the parties?
There are cases that go both ways on this topic and the law is not yet set in stone.  Usually Plaintiff’s argue that this is a relevant consideration and Defendants argue it is not.  Interestingly, here it was ICBC that was arguing the presence of insurance could be “the central factor driving the Court’s analysis under Rule 37B.”.  The Defendant submitted that the Plaintiff was unreasonable in going to trial “knowing of the third party liability policy limits“.
Madam Justice Boyd “entirely reject(ed) this submission.”   Specifically the Court held as follows:
[36] In my view, having never received an actual offer of settlement from the Third Party, it was reasonable for the plaintiff to choose to proceed to trial in this case.  She could expect that she would recover judgment against at least Mohammed and Dubois.  The judgment would also likely be in excess of the policy limits.  While the quantum of the judgment actually recovered would not exceed her pro rata share of the insurance funds (the calculation of which depended on settlements reached or judgments obtained by Maxwell and Sahota), she would still be left with the ability for the next ten years to pursue execution on the judgment against Mohammed and Dubois.  While the Third Party apparently insists that any such judgment will be dry, there is simply no evidence one way or another to confirm that likelihood.  It should also be noted that had the insurance monies been paid into court, and had the three claimants reached some agreement as to an appropriate division of the funds, the Third Party could not have enforced any requirement for a release of her claim against either Mohammed or Dubois.
Can a “Walk Away” offer trigger Double Costs under Rule 37B?
A ‘walk away’ offer is one where a Defendant, confident of winning at trial, offers that if the Plaintiff discontinues the lawsuit pre-trial that the Defendant will waive their entitlement to costs.  The Defendant Samuel made exactly such an offer to the Plaintiff.  The Plaintiff rejected this offer and went to trial.  The Plaintiff indeed was unsuccessful against Samuel.  Samuel asked for an order of Double Costs for beating their formal offer.
Madam Justice Boyd sided with the Defendants and granted the order for double costs.  The Court held that while not automatic, a walk away order is capable of triggering double costs and here it was appropriate to do so.  Specifically the court held as follows:
[56] My own impression is that faced with the grim realities of the other defendants’ limited insurance coverage, the plaintiff made a calculated decision to pursue a claim of very doubtful merit against Samuel, realizing that she would realize a substantial benefit even if Samuel’s liability was limited to a small percentage.  But for the insurance situation, I am confident that the Samuel offer would have been accepted early on by the plaintiff.  ..

[60] As Hinkson J. noted in Bailey v. Jang, 2008 BCSC 1372, the underlying purpose of the offer to settle provisions survived the repeal of Rule 37 and the implementation of Rule 37B.  That purpose is to encourage conduct which reduces both the duration and the cost of litigation, while also discouraging the conduct which has the opposite effect.

[61] I conclude that all of these factors weigh in favour of the defendant Samuel recovering double costs.

The Sanderson Issue:

When a Plaintiff sues 2 parties and succeeds only against one (which was the case here) the Court has a discretion under Rule 57(18) to order that the unsuccessful defendant pay the successful defendants costs.  This is called a “Sanderson Order”.

Here the Plaintiff, not wanting to have the ‘double costs’ order eat into into the limited $1,000,000 of insurance coverage applied for a Sanderson Order.  Madam Justice Boyd granted the order and required Mohamed to pay  Samuel’s court costs.  Vital in this decision was the fact that ICBC, in their Third Party Statement of Defence, alleged that Samuel was negligent in causing the collision.

In reaching this decision the Court held as follows:

[66] This raises the issue, was it reasonable for the plaintiff to have sued and continued her action against the defendant Samuel?  I accept that at the outset, given the evidence of the eyewitness to the effect the Dubois vehicle (driven by Mohammed) had fishtailed back and forth across the road before its collision with the oncoming Samuel vehicle, it was reasonable for the plaintiff to have joined Samuel as a defendant to the action.  However, after the receipt of the many engineering reports which overwhelmingly laid the blame on Mohammed and absolved Samuel of any negligence, was it reasonable for the plaintiff to have continued her action against Samuel?  …

[70] In my view, faced with ICBC’s plea that Samuel caused or contributed to this accident, the plaintiff had no choice but to continue her claim against Samuel.

[71] In all of these circumstances, I exercise my discretion under Rule 57(18) and find that a Sanderson order is appropriate in the case at bar, thus requiring the defendants Mohammed and Dubois to pay the costs which the plaintiff would otherwise pay to the successful defendant Samuel.

The lesson to be learned here is that if a Defendant is going to allege that another party is responsible for a car crash they should do so with caution.  The Plaintiff is free to bring them into the lawsuit and if the claims are not successful ultimately it is the Defendant who may be on the hook for the extra court costs.

Not Done Yet…

One last point.  A companion set of reasons was also released in this case on Friday addressing tax gross ups and management fees.   You can find that decision here.

$50,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Chronic Neck/Low Back Soft Tissue Injuries

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with the fair assessment of damages for chronic soft tissue injuries.
In today’s case (Baxter v. Jamal) the Plaintiff was involved in a ‘substantial‘ 2005 motor vehicle collision.  The Plaintiff was in her vehicle in an intersection waiting to turn left.  The Defendant “ran a red light and struck the driver’s side door of the plaintiff’s vehicle“.
Despite feeling no pain at the time of the accident the Plaintiff in fact was injured.  Her symptoms came on shortly after the crash and some of them persisted to the time of trial.   In awarding $50,000 for the plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) Madam Justice Boyd stated as follows:
[18] Dr. Witherspoon and Dr. Rosemary Nairne Stewart, a physiatrist who conducted an independent medical examination on behalf of the plaintiff in February 2009, both opine the plaintiff has suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck and back.  Since more than three years have passed since the injury, they expect she will continue to experience her current symptoms over the long term and that as a result, she will likely be unable to do physically demanding work.  ..

I am satisfied that pre-accident, the plaintiff was asymptomatic and that since the accident, she has unfortunately been plagued by ongoing neck and back pain which now remain unresolved over four years since the accident.  I accept Dr. Nairne Stewart’s opinion that her condition is either the reflection of the soft tissue injuries (suffered at the time of the accident) which remain unresolved or are the result of the trauma to her back (suffered at the time of the accident), which has rendered a previously asymptomatic condition symptomatic.

[34] I accept Dr. Nairne Stewart’s evidence concerning the plaintiff prognosis, namely that she is “likely to continue to experience all of her current symptoms and limitations over the long term.  She will be unable to do physically demanding work because of her injury.  In sedentary work, she will continue to need a good ergonomic setup in her workstation and the flexibility to change her work tasks and position periodically throughout her workday”.

[35] I accept that these injuries have had a significant effect on the plaintiff’s life, both in terms of her career and her recreational activities. ..

[43] On a revinew of all of the evidence, and considering the significant impact these injuries have had and will continue to have on this young woman, I find that an appropriate award of damages is $50,000.

An interesting part of this decision dealt with the Court’s analysis of the competing medical evidence.  As is common in ICBC Injury Claims the Defence called the evidence of an ‘independent medical examiner’ (orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Maloon) who provided an opinion contrary to the Plaintiff’s treating physician with respect to the extent of the accident related injuries.  The court noted that Dr. Maloon’s competing opinion was ‘obliquely stated‘ and ultimately preferred the evidence of the Plaintiff’s doctors.  This case is worth reviewing for the Court’s discussion of the competing expert evidence and the analysis of the Court in favouring the expert evidence in support of the Plaintiff’s case.


Jury Instructions For ICBC Injury Claims With Multiple Years of Past Wage Loss

If you have an ICBC Injury Claim heading for a Jury Trial reasons for judgement were released today demonstrating an effective ‘charge‘ to the Jury where multiple years of past income loss are at issue.
Section 98 of the BC Insurance (Vehicle) Act limits past income loss awards to ‘net’ income loss in negligence claims stemming from BC motor vehicle collisions (Click here to read my previous post on this topic for some background).   This limitation in law can significantly reduce a Plaintiff’s damages in a BC Injury Claim and reasons for judgement were released today demonstrating this.
In today’s case (Wittenberg v. Ellis) the Plaintiff sued for damages as a result of a 2005 car crash.  After a jury trial damages of over $2 Million dollars were awarded which included an award for $1,420,000 in past income loss.  The court was asked to make the appropriate deduction under s. 98 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act and ultimately decided that the past wage loss had to be reduced by $594,774 in order to comply with the legislation.
In a recent case by the BC Court of Appeal (Lines v. Gordon) the Court clarified how past income awards by juries will be taxed to comply with section 98.  Specifically the Court of Appeal held that “There will be a wide variety of circumstances facing trial judges.  In each case, the trial judge will have to decide whether it is appropriate in the circumstances before him or her to calculate net income loss on the basis of one period, calendar-year periods or other multiple periods.  In making a decision in this regard, the trial judge should consider all of the circumstances and apply s. 98 in a manner that is most consistent with the principles of damage assessment to which I have referred.
Today’s case demonstrates keen trial skills by the Plaintiff’s lawyer as he asked the judge to instruct the Jury to focus on the claimed income loss on a year by year basis.  The Jury did indeed award damages on a year by year basis.  As a result Madam Justice Boyd was able to assess the income tax consequences for each year.  If the Plaintiff’s lawyer was not savvy enough to get this instruction the Jury could have awarded the past income loss as a lump sum and the award could have been taxed as if the money was all earned in one tax year.  This would have resulted in a significantly greater reduction for the Plaintiff.
This case also addressed whether a personal plaintiff can use a corporate tax rate when there is evidence that the past income claimed would have been earned through a corporation.  Madam Justice Boyd held that s. 98 does not permit this and Plaintiff’s need to have past income taxed based on personal tax rates, specifically she held as follows:

[39] I agree with the defence submission that this is the exact result which would occur if the plaintiff at bar is permitted to rely on a corporate tax rate for the bulk of his income loss award.  Like the RRSP deduction, corporate tax rates offer the deferral of the personal tax burden, but only until the owner/shareholder withdraws the corporate funds for personal use, at which time personal income tax must be paid on the funds.  As the award for net income loss will be paid to Mr. Wittenberg and not to his corporation, in effect, it will be as if earnings had been withdrawn from the corporation and taken into Mr. Wittenberg’s personal income.

[40] Permitting the plaintiff to rely on corporate tax rates for part of his income loss award in this case would enable him to avoid entirely his statutory obligation to pay personal income tax rates on personal income theoretically drawn from the corporation.  The result would be over-compensation.  Such an outcome would consequently place Mr. Wittenberg in a better position than he would have been in if he had not been injured.  In my view, this result is impermissible under the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, income tax legislation, and the general principles of damage assessment noted above.

[41] The correct approach is for the jury award for past income loss to be taxed at the personal income tax rate, as required by s. 95 of the Act.

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.

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