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Tag: Madam Justice Dardi

$12,000 For Medical Cannabis Awarded to Crash Victim With Chronic Pain

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, awarding damages, including a $12,000 future care award for the cost of medical cannabis, to a collision victim.
In today’s case (Carrillo v. Deschutter) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2011 collison.  The Defendant admitted fault for the crash.  The Plaintiff suffered a variety of injuries including a frozen shoulder, soft tissue injuries and went on to develop chronic pain with a poor prognosis for full recovery.
At trial, in addition to other heads of damages, the Plaintiff sought damages for the future cost of medical cannabis.  The Defendant objected to this arguing that “conventional prescription drugs” should be adequate.  The court was not persuaded by this defence and awarded $12,000 for the cost of medical cannabis.  In reaching this conclusion Madam Justice Dardi provided the following reasons:

[158]     I have reviewed all the authorities on medical cannabis relied on by both parties. The authorities establish that, in some cases, medical cannabis is compensable in a personal injury case: Wright v. Mistry, 2017 BCSC 239 at para. 84; Amini v. Mondragon, 2014 BCSC 1590 at paras. 133-136; Chavez-Salinas v. Tower, 2017 BCSC 2068 at para. 539.

[159]     An important fact in this case, and one that distinguished this case from many of the cases relied on by the defence, is that Mr. Carrillo, after receiving Dr. Hershler’s recommendations, has been using cannabis balm, tincture oil and capsules. I accept his evidence, that he has found the cannabis products effective and, as a result of using the cannabis products, he has experienced some pain relief. There was no evidence that the consumption has produced any negative side effects. Notably, since the Accident, Mr. Carrillo has pursued the more traditional modalities of physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, massage and injections without any significant benefit. Mr. Carrillo’s prescription pain medication provides him with some symptomatic relief but I do not accept that it controls his pain as is asserted by the defendant.

[160]     With respect to the defence submissions on Mr. Carrillo’s mental health issues, I note that Mr. Carrillo’s medical condition is currently being monitored by his primary care provider, Dr. Sennewald. The six-month’s use of cocaine for pain was some six years ago and there is no evidence of any issue arising since that time.

[161]     All things considered, I conclude that the medical cannabis program recommended by Dr. Hershler is medically justified within the meaning contemplated by the authorities and that it is reasonable to make an award for the costs of the cannabis as part of Mr. Carrillo’s future pain management plan.

[162]     The evidence on the costs of the medical cannabis was thin but not so thin as to justify not making any award for Mr. Carrillo. There was no evidence as to what the cost would be through a Health Canada supplier. Those costs may be different from the costs Mr. Carrillo actually incurred purchasing them through other dispensaries. This is a significant shortcoming that I have taken into account in my assessment. I have also factored into my assessment that in his report Dr. Hershler did not say how long Mr. Carrillo should be on the medical cannabis program. It is uncertain how long he may continue using medical cannabis.

[163]     In the result, and on the totality of the evidence and taking into account the relevant contingencies, I assess an award for medical cannabis in the amount of $12,000.

How Much is it Worth if You Can't Drive Your Ferrari?

If you own a Ferrari and really want to drive it but can’t because of another’s actions, how much is that worth?  $15,000 according to reasons for judgement released today by the BC Supreme Court.
In today’s case (Miller v. Brian Ross Motorsports Corp.) the Plaintiff’s Ferrari was damaged while being serviced at the Defendant dealership.  The Plaintiff sued for damages arguing he should be entitled to $80,000 for the period which he could not use the vehicle.  The Court found the Defendant’s conduct did indeed wrongfully deprive the plaintiff of use of this vehicle for a period of approximately 9 months.  In assessing damages at $15,000 Madam Justice Dardi provided the following reasons –
[59]        In assessing the appropriate quantum of damages for the loss of use, I have considered the following factors:

  • The plaintiff derives great pleasure from driving his Ferrari and he was deprived of driving it for many months including through the summer months of 2013.
  • During the Material Period, the plaintiff had an alternative vehicle, the Acura, available for transportation purposes.
  • Although the plaintiff endeavoured to drive his Ferrari as frequently as possible, he would not have driven it on a daily basis throughout the Material Period. On his own testimony, he did not drive the Ferrari in the rain, or for work purposes. The Ferrari was insured for “pleasure” and could only be utilized for work purposes a maximum of six days per month.
  • The plaintiff travelled away from Vancouver for work and for pleasure during the Material Period.
  • Although the plaintiff adduced evidence of a rental rate from Mr. Stirrat of the Vancouver Car Club for a substitute Ferrari, he did not take steps to rent such a vehicle. The defendant challenges the reliability of Mr. Stirrat’s evidence on the rental rate. The rate the plaintiff urges this court to apply is the advertised price and notably, Mr. Stirrat was unable to confirm if any vehicle had, in fact, been rented at that price. In addition, the advertised vehicle is not the same model or year as the Ferrari. Further, although the plaintiff calculated the annual rate by extrapolating the monthly rate, no evidence was provided regarding whether the price would differ for long term renters. Overall, I found the evidence regarding the advertised rental rates to be of limited assistance.

[60]        The plaintiff points out that if he had rented a replacement Ferrari, he would have been entitled to special damages for incurring that cost. However the plain fact is that he did not rent a replacement vehicle. Here, the plaintiff’s claim is for general or non-pecuniary damages for loss of use. The doctrinal underpinnings related to general damages are distinct from special damages. Special damages are awarded to compensate a plaintiff for out-of-pocket expenses and generally are calculable monetary losses. In contrast, an award of general or non-pecuniary damages is intended to compensate the plaintiff for more intangible losses and is not a matter of precise arithmetical calculation.
[61]        Finally, in assessing general damages, the court must, on a balanced consideration of the evidence, endeavour to tailor an award that is reasonable and fair as between the parties: Kates v. Hall, 53 B.C.L.R. (2d) 322 (C.A.) at 322; Nason v. Aubin (1958), 16 D.L.R. (2d) 309 (N.B.S.C.) at 314.
[62]        On a balanced consideration of the relevant factors, I assess the plaintiff’s damages for loss of use of the Ferrari during the Material Period as $15,000.

The Death of the LVI Program?

I have it on good authority that ICBC’s Low Velocity Impact Program is being largely scrapped.  Instead of the conventional LVI denials for collisions with under $2,000 of vehicle damage, I am informed that ICBC will now only deny claims under the LVI policy in cases where vehicle damage is limited to “scuffs, scrapes or scratches“.  Anything beyond this minimal paint damage will be adjusted on overall merits.  I have not yet seen a written copy of this shift in policy but if I do I will be sure to share it here.
With this introduction out of the way, the latest judicial nail in the LVI coffin was released this week.  In this week’s case (Midgley v. Nguyen) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2004 collision.  He suffered various injuries and sued for damages. ICBC argued this was a Low Velocity Impact and that the plaintiff was not injured.  Madam Justice Dardi soundly rejected this argument finding the Plaintiff suffered from a torn labru in his right hip along with psychological injuries.  She assessed non-pecuniary damages at $110,000.  In dismissing the LVI Defence the Court provided the following critical comments:
[174]     The overarching submission of the defence was that “this was a nothing accident”. The tenor of the defence submission was that, since there was no damage to Mr. Midgley’s motor vehicle, he could not have sustained the damage he alleges in the 2004 Accident.
[175]     There is no legal principle that holds that if a collision is not severely violent or if there is no significant damage to a motor vehicle, the individual seated within that vehicle at the time of the impact cannot have sustained injuries. The authorities clearly establish that, while the lack of vehicle damage may be a relevant consideration, the extent of the injuries suffered by a plaintiff is not to be measured by the severity of the force in a collision or the degree of the vehicle’s damage. Rather, the existence and extent of a plaintiff’s injuries is to be determined on the basis of the evidentiary record at trial: see Gordon v. Palmer (1993), 78 B.C.L.R. (2d) 236.
[176]     As I referred to earlier, the defence led no opinion evidence to support the assertion that the force of the impact in this case was incapable of producing the injury alleged by Mr. Midgley. I accept Mr. Midgley’s evidence regarding his body position at the time of impact and that, as far as he was concerned, the collision was jarring. In any case, there is expert medical evidence, which I find persuasive, that supports the relationship between the 2004 Accident – and, in particular, Mr. Midgley’s body position at the time of impact – and the existence of his injuries.
[177]     On the totality of the evidence, I am persuaded that Mr. Midgley sustained an injury in the 2004 Accident, in spite of the fact that his vehicle apparently was not damaged.

Tractor-Trailer Driver Not Negligent for Entering Left Lane To Make Wide Right Turn

Large commercial vehicles sometimes have to make wide turns.  In some circumstances it is necessary for such motorists to move out of the curb lane before executing such a turn.  Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing a collision occurring during such a maneuver.
In last week’s case (Steward v. Dueck) the Plaintiff was travelling the in the ‘fast’ lane.  Ahead of her in the curb lane was “a very large commercial vehicle“.  The commercial vehicle started a right hand turn by first signalling, checking that traffic was a safe distance behind him, crossing into the fast lane and beginning his wide turn.  During this time the Plaintiff collided with the trailer unit.  The Plaintiff sued for damages but the claim was dismissed.  The Court found the commercial driver was not negligent   In dismissing the claim Madam Justice Dardi made the following findings:
[25]         Prior to initiating his turn, Mr. Dueck described that he first checked the traffic. He was satisfied that he could safely initiate his manoeuvre, as the traffic was a safe distance behind him. He then signaled a left turn and moved from the slow or curb lane into the fast lane. He blocked the lanes by crossing the dotted dividing line. He then turned his Unit into and through the left turn lane to make his turn. He says he never had his Unit entirely in the left turn lane but rather, he turned his Unit through the lane in “an arc”. He described his turning manoeuvre, which he says he executes routinely, as being designed to discourage other drivers from passing him on either side while he is executing his turn…
[35]         Ms. Stewart does not take issue with Mr. Dueck’s assertion that the turning manoeuvre he undertook was appropriate for executing a right-turn at this particular Intersection. Rather, Ms. Stewart’s essential contention is that Mr. Dueck should have slowed down or stopped before initiating his right turn so that he could have first ascertained Ms. Stewart’s position. Her counsel disputes that Mr. Dueck activated his four-way flashers.  In any case, if it is found that Mr. Dueck did activate his four-way flashers Ms. Stewart argues that this did not constitute sufficient warning of his manoeuvre…
[55]         In my view, the preponderance of the evidence supports a finding that Ms. Stewart failed to exercise due care in all of the circumstances. A reasonable driver in her position would have been put on notice that she should proceed with caution. Mr. Dueck’s 72-foot Unit with 14 flashing lights proceeding at 15 kph was clearly there to be seen. Contrary to the assertions of Ms. Stewart’s counsel, such a large vehicle “does not turn suddenly.” Ms. Stewart did not testify that she was watching the Unit and that Mr. Dueck failed to activate his four-way flashers or the right turn signal. She merely says that she did not observe his four-way flashers or the right turn signal. Had she been paying due care and attention to the roadway ahead of her, the operational flashing signals of his Unit – seven signal lights located at intervals down the length of each side of the Unit – would have been clearly visible to her. The four-way flashers and right turn signal would have been fully visible from the rear and passenger side of the Unit.
[56]         The Supreme Court of Canada in Swartz Bros. Limited v. Wills, [1935] S.C.R. 628 at 634, endorsed the notion that: [W]here there is nothing to obstruct the vision and there is a duty to look, it is negligence not to see what is clearly visible.” See also Millot Estate v. Reinhard, 2001 ABQB 1100 at para. 46. This principle has application to this case…
[65]         The only reasonable inference is that Ms. Stewart was not paying due care and attention as she was approaching the Intersection.
[66]         I find that Ms. Stewart bears the onus of proving negligence. In my view, she has failed to discharge her burden of proof. I am not persuaded on a balance of probabilities that the accident was attributable to any want of care on Mr. Dueck’s part. I find Ms. Stewart entirely at fault for the accident. Moreover, Ms. Stewart has failed to prove any negligence on Mr. Dueck’s part for the second impact she says occurred as Mr. Dueck backed up his Unit to clear the Intersection. I find that Mr. Dueck acted reasonably in the circumstances. In reaching my conclusions, I have considered the entire body of evidence and, in my view, it best harmonizes with the preponderance of the probabilities.

Court Considers It "Unsafe" To Rely on Defence Doctor's Opinion In Chronic Headache Case

In my continued efforts to highlight judicial scrutiny of expert testimony in BC injury litigation, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry, finding an expert “displayed a somewhat compromised objectivity” and that it was “unsafe” to rely on his opinion.
In this week’s case (Smith v. Moshrefzadeh) the 54 year old plaintiff was injured in a rear end collision in 2008.  As a result she suffered from soft tissue injuries to her neck and shoulders which caused chronic headaches.  At trial the Defendant produced an orthopaedic surgeon who provided opinion evidence that the probability that the crash resulted in the chronic symptoms was “negligible“.  Madam Justice Dardi did not accept this evidence and provided the following critical comments:
[62]         I accept the opinions of Dr. Helper, Dr. Robinson and Dr. Craig and, where they differed, I prefer their opinions to that of Dr. Wahl.  I found each of Dr. Robinson, Dr. Helper, and Dr. Craig, who are very well-qualified and experienced practitioners, to be careful and fair-minded in their testimony.  Their opinions, without exception, were not weakened in cross-examination.  Each of the doctors persuasively discounted Dr. Wahl’s opinion that the degeneration of Ms. Smith’s cervical spine shown on her x-rays is the cause of her current symptoms.  While Dr. Wahl is no doubt a well-qualified orthopaedic surgeon, his practice is focused on the surgical management, not the medical management, of the spine.  Dr. Wahl clearly had not reviewed Ms. Smith’s medical records as carefully as the other expert witnesses and as I mentioned earlier his report was predicated on a misconception as to the timing  of the onset of Ms. Smith’s symptoms.  Given the significant concessions he made in cross-examination and the Court’s impression that he displayed a somewhat compromised objectivity in preparing his report, I consider it unsafe to rely on his opinion.
In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $80,000 the court provided the following reasons:
[65]         In summary on this point, Ms. Smith’s chronic headaches and neck and upper back pain and discomfort which were caused by the accident have persisted for some three and a half years.  She experiences episodic flare-ups.  The pain fluctuates in intensity and is aggravated by physical activity.  Ms. Smith’s symptoms are exacerbated by the physical demands of the commercial salmon and herring fisheries.  She can no longer engage in the prawn fishery.  She has constant and daily headaches which vary in intensity.  The headaches are usually of a mild to moderate severity, but at least a few times per week they become severe enough that she needs to rest in a quiet environment.  For the most part, however, even though she describes feeling like she is “hanging on by a thread”, she forces herself to carry on with her fishing work and with maintaining her household routines and family life.  In order to carry on, she takes prescription medication on a daily basis.
[66]         There is a possibility that, by undertaking the treatments recommended by the specialists who testified at trial, Ms. Smith will experience some improvement in her symptoms and will be able to manage her pain and discomfort more effectively.  However, I find that it is unlikely that she will make a full recovery to her pre-accident status…
[76]         I have reviewed all of the authorities provided by both counsel.  Although the cases are instructive, I do not propose to review them in detail as they only provide general guidelines.  In broad terms, the cases relied upon by the defence involve plaintiffs with symptoms that had significantly improved by trial.  In considering Ms. Smith’s particular circumstances, I conclude that a fair and reasonable award for non-pecuniary damages is $80,000.

Bus Driver Liable For Injuries Caused by Hard Braking

As previously discussed, a collision is not necessary in order for a motorist to be responsible for personal injuries caused to others.  This was demonstrated again in reasons for judgement released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.
In this week’s case (Prempeh v. Boisvert) the Plaintiff was a passenger on a bus operated by the Defendant.  The Defendant “vigorously and abruptly applied the brakes to avoid a collision with the two vehicles which had stopped ahead of him“.  This caused the plaintiff, who was standing holding a metal handle, to be thrown down the aisle.  The Plaintiff was injured in the process.
The Plaintiff alleged the driver was negligent in braking hard.  The Defendant disagreed arguing this action was necessary to avoid collision.  Ultimately Madam Justice Dardi found the driver fully liable for the incident for driving without due care an attention.  In assessing the driver at fault the Court provided the following reasons:

[22] Mr. Boisvert was required to brake hard to avoid hitting the two vehicles that had stopped on the roadway in front of the bus he was operating. The first of the vehicles had stopped to turn left on Hamilton Street. The second car stopped behind the left-turning vehicle without a collision and without accompanying honking or screeching of brakes. It can reasonably be inferred that this occurred within a time frame that should have permitted a reasonably prudent user of the road driving behind those vehicles an opportunity to react and brake without incident. The application of the brakes was not a reaction to an emergency or unexpected hazard.

[23] Moreover, Mr. Boisvert properly conceded that, regardless of an abrupt or unexpected stop of a vehicle ahead, in order to prevent accidents prudence mandates that at all times a bus driver drive defensively and maintain a safe cushion or certain distance from a vehicle travelling in front of the bus. This is precisely to be able to stop safely in the event of an unexpected manoeuvre by that vehicle.

[24] I cannot find with precision whether the sudden and hard application of the brakes occurred because Mr. Boisvert was travelling too rapidly, not maintaining a diligent look-out or because he failed to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of him. However, in weighing all of the evidence I have concluded that Mr. Boisvert’s sudden and vigorous application of the brakes, in the context of all the circumstances in this case, establishes a prima facie case of negligence against Mr. Boisvert. It is not conduct attributable to a reasonably prudent bus driver.

[25] Having found a prima facie case of negligence the onus is upon the defendants to establish that Mr. Boisvert was not negligent or that the incident was attributable to some specific cause consistent with the absence of negligence on his part.

[26] I note that Mr. Boisvert’s assertion at his examination for discovery that he could have stopped smoothly but the bus brakes on the new trolley bus “grabbed” and caused a “hard stop” is no answer to this claim.

[27] Mr. Boisvert was an experienced bus driver. The plaintiff was entitled to expect that he would operate the bus in a safe, proper and prudent manner. The plaintiff cannot be expected to assume any risk associated with the operation of the vehicle which could not reasonably be anticipated by a passenger. The usual braking of a driver as he moves through traffic would not cause a passenger to be thrown to the floor so violently. Moreover it is well established on the authorities that the responsibility of a public carrier extends to ensuring that its modes of conveyance permit the bus to be operated in a safe and proper manner: Visanji at para. 32.

[28] I have considered all of the authorities provided by both parties. Though useful as providing guidance on the governing principles, each case turns on its own facts. I note that unlike the circumstances in Lalani v. Wilson, [1988] B.C.J. No. 2408 (Q.L.) (S.C.), upon which the defendant relies, the bus driver here was aware that the plaintiff had fallen – the possibility of injury was self-evident. Mr. Boisvert’s attention was drawn to such a possibility at the time of the incident and in compliance with the bus operator training manual he should have recorded all pertinent information regarding the incident. While the court in Lalani found it would have been unfair to shift the burden, this is not so in this case.

[29] On balance I am not satisfied that the defendants have shown that Mr. Boisvert conducted himself in a reasonable and careful manner consistent with the high duty of care imposed on those engaged in public transit. In the result, I conclude that Mr. Boisvert, however fleetingly, breached the standard of care of a reasonably prudent bus driver. I find the defendants negligent.

Costs and "Transitional Proceedings" in the BC Supreme Court

One of the notable changes under the new BC Supreme Court Civil Rules was an increase in Tariff Costs.  If a trial occurred under the former Rules of Court but the reasons for judgement are not delivered until after the new BC Supreme Court Civil Rules came into effect which Rules govern the costs award?  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing this question.
In this week’s case (X v. Y) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 motorcycle collision.  He worked as an undercover RCMP officer and as a result was given permission to have himself and witnesses referred to via initials in the reasons for judgement.  His injuries included a burst fracture in his mid-spine.  His claim for damages was successful at trial which took place under the former Rules of Court.   The reasons for judgement, however, were not released until after the new Rules came into force.
The Defendant agreed the Plaintiff was entitled to costs but argued the lesser costs under the former Rules should apply.  Madam Justice Dardi rejected this argument and awarded costs under the current Rules.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[10] Under the New Rules a transitional proceeding means a proceeding that was started before July 1, 2010.

[11] Supreme Court Civil Rule 24-1(2) states as follows:

A transitional proceeding is deemed to be a proceeding started under these Supreme Court Civil Rules.

[12] Supreme Court Civil Rule 24-1(14) states that:

If a step in a proceeding is taken before July 1, 2010, the former Supreme Court Rules apply to any right or obligation arising out of or relating to that step if and to the extent that that right or obligation is to have effect before September 1, 2010.

[13] Section 10 of Appendix B to the New Rules provides:

Without limiting section 9, Appendix B of the Supreme Court Rules, B.C. Reg. 221/90, as it read on June 30, 2010, applies to

(a) orders for costs made after December 31, 2006 and before July 1, 2010,

(b) settlements reached after December 31, 2006 and before July 1, 2010 under which payment of assessed costs is agreed to,

(c) costs payable on acceptance of an offer to settle made under Rule 37 or 37B, if that offer to settle was made after December 31, 2006 and before July 1, 2010, and

(d) all assessments related to those orders, settlements and costs.

[14] This proceeding is a transitional proceeding pursuant to Rule 24-1(2) and as such, the determination of costs is governed by Rule 14-1. Although the trial was commenced under the former Rules, the judgment in this matter was rendered on July 18, 2011. The defendants’ obligation to pay damages arose on that date. As there were no rights or obligations arising out of or relating to the trial that were to have effect before September 1, 2010, I cannot conclude that Rule 24-1(14) has any application to the determination of costs in this case.

[15] Furthermore, on a plain reading of Section 10 of Appendix B, Appendix B of the former Rules has no application to this case as there were no relevant offers or orders made prior to July 1, 2010.

[16] In the result I conclude that the New Rules govern the determination of costs in this proceeding.

More on the Prohibition of Recording Court Ordered Medical Exams

Reasons for judgement were published this week demonstrating that while the BC Supreme Court has discretion to permit a Plaintiff to tape record a Court-ordered medical exam, this discretion is rarely exercised.
In this week’s case (Colby v. Stopforth) the Plaintiff and her litigation guardian were ordered to attend a series of medical exams.  The Plaintiff sought permission to tape record these.  Madam Justice Dardi refused to allow this and in doing so provided the following comments:

[18] However, that is not the end of the analysis. I must next consider whether in the unique circumstances of this case the plaintiff has nonetheless adduced cogent evidence that the use of an audiotape would advance the interests of justice.

[19] The plaintiff forcefully argues that the audio recordings are required to protect Mr. Rogers. The plaintiff’s overarching concern is the potential for an evidentiary conflict between Mr. Rogers and an examiner, particularly given that Mr. Rogers is a key witness whose credibility will be a central issue at trial. Mr. Rogers also asserts that he requires this procedural safeguard because of his status as Ms. Colby’s committee—as a fiduciary he is required to act in her best interests.

[20] The court in Wong observed that a medical examination, although part of the discovery process, is quite different in nature from statements made to an independent medical examiner and cannot be equated with the statements taken under oath on an examination for discovery: Wong at paras. 27-29.

[21] As I mentioned in my earlier ruling, I am not persuaded that the potential for an evidentiary conflict between Mr. Rogers and the examiners is, in itself, a cogent reason for ordering an audio recording. Plaintiffs routinely answer questions at independent medical examinations, as they are required to do under the Rules, when their credibility is at issue.

[22] Nor upon careful consideration am I persuaded on the evidence that Mr. Rogers’ status as a committee, in itself, is a sufficiently compelling or cogent reason to warrant the use of an audio recording. To permit the use of audio recording here would be to place Mr. Rogers in a preferred or advantageous position to that of a plaintiff who attends an independent medical examination on his or her on behalf. There may be cases where it is appropriate that a litigation guardian or committee should be permitted the opportunity to have the independent medical examination audio recorded, but on the evidence adduced this is not one of them.

[23] In summary, the evidence in this case falls short of establishing that the use of an audiotape recording would advance the interests of justice. Based on the reasoning articulated by the Court of Appeal in Wong, I cannot conclude on any principled basis that the plaintiff has met the onus in the circumstances of this case for showing that the use of an audiotape recording at the independent medical examinations will advance the interests of justice. I therefore decline to make any orders in this regard.

For more on this topic you can click here to access my archived posts discussing recording what transpires at independent medical exams.

Motorist 75% At Fault for Striking Cyclist on Sidewalk

Although Section 183 of the Motor Vehicle Act prohibits a cyclist from riding on a sidewalk, motorists need to keep a lookout for this common breach of the law.  Failure to do so can result in fault in a motor vehicle collision as was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.
In yesterday’s case (Deol v. Veach) the Plaintiff cyclist was travelling Southbound on a sidewalk on Scott Road in Surrey, BC.  This was against the flow of traffic for his side of the street.  At the same time the Defendant motorist was exiting a Safeway parking lot attempting to turn right onto Scott Road.

The Defendant failed to see the Plaintiff and a collision occurred.  Both parties were found at fault with the Court placing the majority of the blame on the motorist for failing to keep a proper lookout.  In reaching this finding Madam Justice Dardi provided the following reasons:

[25] A critical and uncontroverted fact in this case is that the defendant did not see the plaintiff when he looked to the right as he was approaching the Exitway. On his own admission his unobstructed view of the Sidewalk to the north was for some 200 feet. Moreover, after the defendant stopped just east of the unmarked crosswalk at the Exitway, and prior to executing his right turn, he did not look to the right again. The defendant was in clear violation of s. 144 of the MVA, which prohibits driving without due care and attention and without reasonable consideration for others. Although the plaintiff was riding in the direction facing traffic, the Exitway, which was bordered by a sidewalk on both sides, was precisely where a motorist should reasonably have expected to encounter another user of the road. Unlike the plaintiff in Ivanoff v. Bensmiller, 2002 BCCA 173, the plaintiff was not in an unexpected location. The defendant was well aware that both pedestrians and cyclists used the sidewalks on Scott Road.

[26] I find on the totality of the evidence that had the defendant acted in a reasonably prudent manner he would have seen the plaintiff. The plaintiff was there to be seen by the defendant. Had the defendant maintained a proper look-out there is an irresistible inference that the collision would have been avoided. I therefore conclude that the defendant failed to meet the standard of care of an ordinarily prudent driver required in the circumstances, and that his failure to do so was a cause of the accident. In the result I find the defendant negligent…

[36] I consider the defendant’s failure to keep a proper lookout, his failure to observe the plaintiff who was there to be seen, and his execution of a right turn while focussing to his left, more blameworthy than the lapse of care of the plaintiff, who, after stopping at the Exitway and observing the defendant’s vehicle come to a stop, failed to make eye contact with the defendant prior to proceeding through the Exitway.

[37] In the end I find that the defendant was substantially but not entirely to blame for the accident and therefore I attribute fault to both parties. I apportion liability 75% to the defendant and 25% to the plaintiff.

$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Chronic Post Traumatic Headaches

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, assessing damages for chronic headaches and an aggravation of a low back injury caused by a motor vehicle collision.
In last week’s case (Drodge v. Kozak) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 two-vehicle collision on Vancouver Island.  ICBC admitted the crash was the fault of the other motorist.  Following the collision the Plaintiff suffered various injuries including chronic post-traumatic headaches.  The Plaintiff argued that these were caused by a traumatic brain injury sustained in the crash.  Madam Justice Dardi rejected this argument finding that the Plaintiff did not suffer a brain injury.  The Court did, however, find that the headaches were causally linked to trauma sustained in the collision.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 the Court made the following findings:

[106] I have concluded that the constellation of symptoms that Dr. Smart bases his concussion diagnosis upon are not sufficiently specific to be diagnostic. I prefer Dr. Teal’s opinion that it is unlikely that Mr. Drodge sustained a mild traumatic brain injury. I find that the headache, cognitive, and other symptoms attributed by Dr. Smart to post-concussion syndrome are non-specific symptoms. I accept Dr. Teal’s evidence that there are “multiple reasons for dizziness, for headaches, for sleep disturbances, for mood disturbance … they are not necessarily post-concussional symptoms.” Further, the expert evidence establishes that cognitive difficulties including poor concentration and mood disturbances can develop as a consequence of severe headaches.

[107] In summary on this issue, I have concluded that on balance the preponderance of the evidence does not support a finding that Mr. Drodge suffered either a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion/post-concussion syndrome.

[108] Although I have concluded that the evidence falls short of establishing a diagnosis of concussion/post-concussion syndrome, I do accept that Mr. Drodge has suffered chronic headaches and associated cognitive symptoms for some four and a half years since the accident…

[120] In the end the question of Mr. Drodge’s prognosis is difficult. Taking into account all of the opinion evidence of the experts which conflicted on this point, I have concluded that Mr. Drodge is not likely to make a full recovery. While Mr. Drodge may be able to develop better coping strategies to manage his pain more effectively, and may experience some corresponding improvement in his headache symptoms as well as his back symptoms, there is only a small chance that he will improve to the degree that he will be employable…

[143] While the authorities are instructive I do not propose to review them in detail as they only provide general guidelines. I have reviewed all of the authorities provided by both counsel, and considering Mr. Drodge’s particular circumstances, and compensating him only for the increase in the exacerbation of his low back symptoms and not for the effects of his pre-existing back condition that he would have experienced in any case, I conclude a fair and reasonable reward for non-pecuniary damages is $85,000.

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