Tag: Madam Justice Fisher

$150,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment in Polytrauma Injury Case

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for multiple injuries sustained in a vehicle collision.
In today’s case (Chappell v. Loyie) the Plaintiff was injured when his motorcycle was struck by the Defendants vehicle in an intersection collision.  He suffered numerous injuries, some of which resolved others which caused ongoing disability.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $150,000 Madam Justice Fisher provided the following reasons:

[176]     I find that Mr. Chappell sustained the following injuries as a result of the accident:

a)       injuries to his feet and ankles which caused severe pain initially and substantially resolved within about four months;

b)       soft tissue injuries to the back and neck with chronic, ongoing pain that affects his level of activity and his ability to cope with his other injuries;

c)       carpal tunnel syndrome in the left hand, which caused significant pain over time but resolved within a month following carpal tunnel release surgery in November 2012, with an 80% risk that he would have developed carpal tunnel in his left hand in any event;

d)       headaches that are cervicogenic in origin and have become chronic partly as a result of his long term use of pain medication;

e)       injury to the previously reconstructed ACL in the left knee, which caused it to eventually dissolve and require replacement and which continues to cause intermittent pain, but with a 20% risk of damage to the reconstructed ACL regardless of the accident;

f)        injury to the rotator cuff in the right shoulder that eventually required surgical repair, which has substantially resolved but continues to cause intermittent pain, but with a 20% risk of re-injury in any event and an 80% risk of problems in the right shoulder due to degenerative problems, some of which are now present;

g)       a mild TBI that did not cause significant symptoms and resolved within about two months following the accident; and

h)       severe depression and anxiety that developed over a year after the accident, is ongoing, and may improve with concentrated treatment.

[200]     Mr. Chappell’s multiple injuries are serious and cumulative, the prognosis for a pain-free existence is poor, and their effect on Mr. Chappell’s life has been profound. His colleagues and friends who testified described him before the accident as a positive, active “larger than life” individual who was “happier building a fence for you than watching a movie”. He was known for his strength. Tab Buckner, one of his oldest friends who worked with him in construction, said he was very physical, proficient and could think outside the box. Steve Raby, one of his fellow firefighters, described Mr. Chappell as “one of the biggest, strongest people” he knew, a happy person who liked to socialize, and “not a complaining kind of guy”. Todd Roberts, another firefighter and hunting friend, said that Mr. Chappell organized all the gear for their hunting trips and all he had to do was “jump in the truck”. Mr. Chappell’s wife, Cheryl Ann, testified about the deep happiness and intimacy they had found together, the joys and challenges of blending their families and their common interests in home renovation projects. She said that her husband loved his work as a firefighter, could do “pretty much anything” when it came to renovations, and was very particular about his lawn and garden.

[201]     The picture painted by these witnesses of Mr. Chappell after the accident stands in stark contrast to these descriptions. They all said that Mr. Chappell is no longer active, doing either construction work, hunting or social activities, and the most he does is to take an advisory role in projects. Many thought he was coping with what they perceived as pain and fatigue. Todd Roberts described his activity level as “next to none” and his personality as drastically changed, “he just seems his mind is elsewhere”. Tab Buckner noticed that Mr. Chappell had difficulty getting in and out of chairs, could barely move at times, seemed angry with the world, and was not coping well with his wife and stepsons. Anthony Tanner, his oldest stepson, observed that the relationship between his mother and Mr. Chappell had become more strained. Mrs. Chappell described the course of Mr. Chappell’s injuries and recovery since the accident, his obvious pain, his growing frustration and then sadness at his lack of progress, and the personal difficulties that developed between them as he became more irritable, impatient and argumentative. There is no longer any intimacy in their relationship, which is obviously a very difficult issue for both of them.

[202]     I found all of these witnesses to be honest and straightforward, but Mrs. Chappell was quite exceptional. Throughout her testimony she was responsive and respectful, and while of course she was supportive of her husband, she did not overstate the positive or understate the negative. Her evidence was entirely consistent with Mr. Chappell’s evidence about the nature and quality of their lives together and what has happened to their relationship since the accident.

[203]     All of this evidence is consistent with how I have already described Mr. Chappell: after five years of dealing with his physical injuries, he is a broken man, emotionally isolated, suffering in constant pain, ashamed of his physical limitations and his inability to cope, and desperate for solutions.

[204]     Moreover, by June 2012, Mr. Chappell was forced to give up his career as Captain of Suppression and abandon his ultimate goal of becoming Battalion Chief of Suppression. This loss of a job he loved caused him great personal distress. As I indicated above, while there was a measureable risk that he would have had to do this at some point in any event, this change occurred much sooner than it would have absent the accident. I will come back to this when I address future loss of capacity.

[205]     In these circumstances, I award of $150,000 for non-pecuniary damages, after taking into account the extent of the risks outlined above that some of Mr. Chappell’s conditions would have occurred regardless of the accident.

Adverse Inference Drawn For "Absence of Evidence From Any Treating Doctor"

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, drawing an adverse inference for a Plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit who failed to lead evidence from any treating physician.
In this week’s case (Mohamud v. Yu) the Plaintiff was involved in two collisions and sued for damages.  The Defendants admitted fault for both crashes.  At trial the Plaintiff sought over $260,000 in damages.
The Plaintiff led expert evidence in support of her case but none of these witnesses were treating physicians.  Madam Justice Fisher rejected much of the Plaintiff’s claim awarding of $61,532.  Influential in this decisions was the absence of expert evidence from treating physicians.  In drawing an adverse inference Madam Justice Fisher reasoned as follows:

[33]        The plaintiff was a poor historian. Important parts of her evidence were inconsistent with statements she made (or did not make) to others, such as her family doctor and the experts who testified on her behalf. Some of these inconsistencies may be quite normal, but the extent of the inconsistencies here are of concern, particularly in the absence of any objective confirmatory evidence from a treating doctor or other medical professional. Most notably, the plaintiff’s family doctor, who saw her throughout these years, did not testify or provide an expert report. It is especially troubling that this is a doctor whom the plaintiff said was her long-time, trusted family physician.

[34]        In these circumstances, the defendants urge me to draw an adverse inference from the plaintiff’s failure to call evidence from her family doctor…

[39] The plaintiff’s explanation for her failure to call her family doctor was that she called the witnesses she considered the most necessary, she did not have the means to obtain “every possible medical report”, the family doctor is not always the best able to give an opinion “given the era of walk-in clinics and five minute appointments” and it was open to the defendant to call the doctor, especially since the clinical notes indicate that the doctor prepared a CL19 report. On this last matter, counsel for the defendants advised the court that he not aware of such a report and had never received a copy.
[40] I certainly accept that a plaintiff is entitled to call the witnesses she considers necessary but I do not agree that the family doctor in the circumstances here would not be the best able to give an opinion. While it does appear in the clinical records that the plaintiff saw other physicians from time to time, her primary care physician is the only person who could have given the court an opinion about the plaintiff’s condition, informed by a long standing relationship and observations throughout the relevant periods of time (following not only the two accidents but also the Skytrain fall). This takes on more importance in light of the plaintiff’s evidence that she would have described all of her symptoms and complaints to her doctor and that whatever was recorded in the clinical notes reflected what she told the doctor at the time. I do not consider the fact that the defendant could have called the doctor as a witness to adequately explain this plaintiff’s failure to do so.
[41] The circumstances here are very different from those in Buksh, where the absent witnesses were not long-standing family doctors and the issue arose in the context of a trial where all clinical records had been admitted into evidence and had been before the jury. They are, however, quite similar to the circumstances in Andrews v. Mainster, 2014 BCSC 541, where the plaintiff failed to call any health care professionals who treated her before or after the accident. In that case, the court drew an adverse inference.
[42] Accordingly, I consider it appropriate in these circumstances to draw an adverse inference from the plaintiff’s failure to call her family doctor to give evidence, at least as a treating physician if not also as an expert witness.

$80,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment Following Chronic Injuries from 7 Collisions

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a Plaintiff who had the misfortune of being involved in 7 collisions.
In today’s case (Sediqi v. Simpson) the Plaintiff was involved in seven collisions from 2010-2013.  He was not at fault for any of these.  He suffered a variety of injuries, some of which lingered to the time of trial.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $80,000 Madam Justice Fisher made the following findings and provided the below reasons:

[78]         I find that the plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries in his neck, right upper back and shoulder and lower back as a result of these accidents (with the exception of accident #4, which appears to have been limited to the neck and upper back or shoulder). He had a pre-existing rotator cuff tear in his right shoulder that was aggravated by each successive accident, as well as pre-existing carpal tunnel syndrome (aggravated by accidents #5 and 6) and a degenerative spine condition (aggravated by accidents #6 and 7). He also suffered from headaches from accidents #1, 4, 5 and 7, and the pain resulting from all of these injuries has affected his mood and contributed to his feelings of sadness. He was unable to work for a week after accident #4, for about four weeks after accident #5 as well as a month of reduced hours, for about three weeks after accident #6 as well as further weeks of reduced hours, and for three weeks after the last accident followed by several months of reduced hours.

[79]         The plaintiff is a 51 year old man who prides himself as a person who works hard for his family. He has been the unfortunate victim of seven accidents, which caused injuries that have affected him cumulatively. I consider the cumulative effect of these injuries to be an important factor.

[80]         The plaintiff continues to experience pain symptoms more a year following the last accident, particularly in his right shoulder and the right side of his back. He has problems sleeping and experiences low moods and feelings of sadness. He has changed from a good natured, positive individual to one who is less jovial, less patient of others, and at times argumentative. He has had some limitations in his physical activities at home and at work. Evidence from his wife and from Mr. Poirier and Mr. Murray confirms this. He does little at home and has difficulty carrying heavy objects at work.

[81]         The plaintiff has tried physiotherapy, exercise and various kinds of pain medication but he is not a physically active person. His prognosis is guarded. Considering how long he has been in pain, it is likely to continue. However, his symptoms should improve to some extent with proper management, which includes physical exercise…

[89]         In general, I found the cases cited by Mr. Wilson to involve injuries less severe than those in this case, either due to shorter periods of pain symptoms or reductions due to contingencies that do not apply here. Not surprisingly, none of the cases cited by either counsel involved plaintiffs suffering the cumulative effect of injuries from seven accidents. In my view, general damages appropriate in a case like this range from $50,000 to $90,000. Taking into account the plaintiff’s pre-existing conditions (which as I said before do not require a significant reduction), I would assess a fair award here to be $80,000.

NHL Player's Wage Loss Claim Not "Too Complex" For a Jury

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing whether a Jury was capable of determining an NHL player’s wage loss claim in a personal injury lawsuit.
In today’s case (Franson v. Caldarella) the Plaintiff, Cody Franson, was injured a in 2008 collision.  At the time he “was in the second year of a three-year Entry Level two-way contract with the National Hockey League (NHL) and the American Hockey League (AHL), and was in training camp preparing for tryouts for the Nashville Predators.”
The lawsuit claimed that the collision related injuries delayed his entry into the NHL by one year.  He claimed damages for loss of opportunity for this year and further alleged that his subsequent NHL contracts would have been more favorable had the delay not occurred.  The Plaintiff brought an application to strike the Defendant’s jury notice arguing that the intricacies of NHL contract negotiations are too complex for a jury.  Madam Justice Fisher disagreed and dismissed the Plaintiff’s application.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
[21]         The essence of the plaintiff’s position is that issues (2) and (3) will require answers to questions which rely on complex technical evidence. The main questions as I understand them are:
(a) What were the chances that the plaintiff would have played any games for Nashville in the 2008-2009 season?
(b) If his chances were good, how many games would he have played?
(c) If he had played a certain number of games in that season, would he have been able to negotiate more favourable terms in his contract in subsequent years as a Restricted Free Agent?..
[26]         The plaintiff submitted that the trier of fact will be required to understand the methodology, assess it, and determine which statistics and methodology is appropriate in order to calculate these damages. I do not disagree that the trier of fact will have to understand the methodology used by Mr. Gurney but I question whether it will be necessary to determine another appropriate methodology and apply that. These kinds of hypothetical damages in circumstances of uncertainty are not normally assessed by way of a mathematical calculation. The expert evidence is presented as a tool to assist the trier of fact in its assessment. In my view, a jury will be capable of understanding Mr. Gurney’s methodology when it is properly explained and it will also be capable of assessing the criticisms of that methodology by Prof. Weiler.
[27]         It is my view that a jury is capable of assessing this kind of evidence and determining the issues arising from it, including the use of hypotheticals and contingencies, with proper direction.
[28]         Moreover, this will not be in inordinately long trial, set for up to 14 days, a time estimate that is reasonable given the number of witnesses and issues to be addressed. In my opinion, a jury will be able to understand the evidence and retain that understanding for the length of the trial.
[29]         For all of these reasons, the plaintiff’s application is dismissed.
 

No Legal Duty of Care Between "Ski Buddies"

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing a novel claim; whether ‘ski buddies’ owe each other a legal duty of care.
This week’s case (Kennedy v. Coe) involved a heli-skiing expedition.  The Plaintiff’s husband and the Defendant never met before.  The skiers were to ski in a buddy system for certain runs and the two were paired up for this purpose.
During a run which did not require buddy supervision the Plaintiff’s husband had a fatal accident.  The Defendant did not notice at the time but when he realized the Plaintiff’s husband was absent he alerted the group and a search was undertaken.  The Plaintiff sued for damages arguing that had the Defendant paid better attention the search could have been undertaken sooner and possibly saved her husband’s life.
Madam Justice Fischer dismissed the claim finding the Defendant acted reasonably in the circumstances and even if he did not there was no legal duty of care in these circumstances.  In reaching this conclusions the Court provided the following reasons:
[99]         There is no question that there are many inherent risks in back-country heli-skiing such that all skiers and snowboarders who agree to be buddies should look out for each other so far as is practicable in whatever circumstances they may find themselves. However, translating a moral obligation into a legal one requires as a first step a relationship of proximity that meets the factors established in the jurisprudence I have reviewed. For the reasons I have outlined, I conclude that none of the three factors in Childs support the imposition of a positive duty to act in the circumstances of this case, and the plaintiff has failed to establish aprima facie duty of care. A skier participating in guided, back-country skiing who agrees to be assigned as a ski buddy with another skier on a particular run is not, without more, in a relationship of sufficient proximity to give rise to a duty of care to the other skier when they are not skiing as buddies on other runs. The “more” may require clear instructions from the guides or a clearly defined mutual understanding between ski buddies of their roles and responsibilities to each other in varying terrain, snow conditions and other circumstances, which would be subject to an analysis of the contrary policy considerations at stage two of the Annstest…
[121]     The plaintiff’s claim is dismissed. It is indeed very sad that Mr. Kennedy met a tragic and untimely death, but he did so after a terrible accident while participating in a high-risk sport and responsibility for his death cannot be placed on Mr. Coe.
 

$80,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for TFC Tear Reqiring Surgery

Adding to this site’s archives of non-pecuniary judgments for wrist injuries, reasons for judgment were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a TFC tear.
In this week’s case (Burtwell v. McCarrrey) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 rear end collision.  She sustained a TFC tear which required surgical intervention. In addition to this she suffered from various soft tissue injuries which continued to post problems at the time of trial.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $80,000 Madam Justice Fisher provided the following reasons:
[42]         I am satisfied that the plaintiff has proved that she suffered the following injuries as a result of the accident of January 20, 2009: (1) TFCC tear in the right wrist and aggravation of arthritis in the right CMC joint; (2) strain and tendonitis in the right shoulder; (3) soft tissue injuries to the neck and upper back; and (4) some depression and anxiety…
[51]         In summary, the TFCC tear caused considerable pain but was substantially resolved within 18 months of the accident, leaving an ongoing loss of strength and mild restriction in flexion; the CMC joint arthritis continues to be painful, will likely progress, and limits the use of the right hand; the shoulder injury also caused considerable pain for over three years, was significantly resolved by May 2012 and there is a good possibility for a more complete recovery by about January 2014 (four years post-accident); the neck and back pain resolved within four months and continues to flare up but will likely improve once Ms. Burtwell engages in a reconditioning program; and the depression is well controlled with medication and is likely to improve with additional counselling, after which medication may no longer be necessary…
[57]         It is always difficult to apply the facts of one case to another, as no two cases are really alike. In general, the awards at the $90,000 to $100,000 level were for injuries that had more serious long term effects than the injuries I have found Ms. Burtwell to have suffered, and the awards at the lower level were for similar injuries that had less impact. In my view, an appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages in this case, taking into account Ms. Burtwell’s pre-existing conditions, is $80,000.

Faded Warning Sign Leads to Liability for Trip and Fall

UPDATE – June 3, 2014 – the BC Court of Appeal overturned the below decision and dismissed the claim finding the faded warning sign, if negligent, was not causative of the fall
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Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry, addressing the adequacy of a warning sign in an occupier’s liability lawsuit.
In last week’s case (Simmons v. Yeager Properties Inc.) the Defendant owned a bakery in Chemainus, BC.  Outside the bakery was a concrete landing and a wooden patio deck.  There was a 2-4 inch height difference between these surfaces.  The Defendant marked this with paint and also with a sign that read “watch your step please“.  The sign faded over tie with the words ‘watch‘ and ‘step‘ becoming ‘quite faded and difficult to see‘.
The Plaintiff tripped and fell in this area and sued for damages.  Although the Plaintiff was found mostly at fault for her own injuries, the Defendant was held 25% responsible for allowing the sign to fade.  In so finding Madam Justice Fisher provided the following reasons:
[37]         In my opinion, the presence of white paint demarcating the patio step was not a sufficient warning, as the patio step was quite different in nature from the both the front and back stairs, and it was also sloping along its edge so that its height varied from two to four inches. In addition, with a patio table and chairs in front of it, the entire painted edge may not have been visible to customers approaching from the back stairs as the plaintiff did. As the defendants must have considered, it was necessary to specifically alert customers to the presence of this step with warning signs. Here, the warning sign that was most visible to the plaintiff was ineffective due to wear and tear.
[38]         The plaintiff says that the measures taken by the defendants after this incident, which were easily done and inexpensive, show that the previous measures were insufficient to make the premises reasonably safe. As with evidence of prior safe use, evidence of what is done after the fact is also a factor to consider in assessing whether the area at the time of the incident was reasonably safe. After the fact conduct is not an admission of negligence, but it may establish that measures were taken which converted an unsafe area into a reasonably safe one, and it may also establish the ease or difficulty with which a risk may have been avoided: see Cahoon at para. 21; O’Leary v Rupert, 2010 BCSC 240 at paras. 47-48.
[39]         In re-painting the edges of all stairs and the patio step in yellow paint, and replacing the red, black and white warning signs with yellow and black signs, the defendants enhanced the safety of the premises. However, other than replacing the faded warning sign, I do not consider that these changes show the previous measures to have been insufficient to alert customers to the change in level at the patio step.
[40]         I find that the ineffective warning sign is evidence of a prima facie breach of the Occupiers Liability Act. In these circumstances, the defendants may refute the breach by leading evidence that they had put into place a reasonable system of inspection and maintenance that was being followed at the time of the accident: Newsham at para. 131, citing Atkins v. Jim Pattison Industries Ltd. (1998), 61 BCLR (3d) 183; and Davis v Kin’s Farm Market (Lynn Valley), 2010 BCSC 677.
[41]         Ms. Laughlin’s evidence was that the outdoor sign needed to be replaced every six to eight months due to fading. She did not have a record of when she replaced the sign but she was at the bakery almost every day and would prepare a new sign when needed. Given how faded the sign was on the date of this incident, I do not consider her inspection and maintenance to be sufficient. It was obvious that the outdoor sign needed to be replaced.
[42]         Accordingly, I find that the plaintiff has proved on a balance of probabilities that by failing to maintain the outdoor warning sign, the defendants failed to take reasonable care to ensure the exterior area leading to the entrance of the bakery was reasonably safe.

Court Critical of ICBC for Failing to Advise Unrepresented Party of Limitation Period

When advancing a tort claim with ICBC it is important to remember that they have no duty to advise you of your limitation period.  If the clock runs out before filing your lawsuit there is typically little a court can do other than offer words of criticism at ICBC for engaging in this practice.  Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating such a result.
In last week’s case (Tolentino v. Gill) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2004 collision. He dealt with ICBC directly with the Court making the following findings about their interactions:
22]        …I find that on July 13, 2005, Mr. Tolentino told Ms. Brunac-White that he had not talked to anyone about his claim (including a lawyer) and Ms. Brunac-White advised Mr. Tolentino that it was not necessary to have a lawyer at that time. Ms. Brunac-White intended to discuss the matter with Mr. Tolentino after she obtained updated medical information. Mr. Tolentino was to contact her when he returned from a trip but he did not do so before the limitation period expired on January 10, 2006. Ms. Brunac-White did not attempt to contact Mr. Tolentino either, and she closed the file on February 2, 2006, after conducting a search for a writ of summons.
The Plaintiff ultimately started a lawsuit and ICBC applied to have it dismissed as being filed beyond the limitation period.  The court sided with ICBC and dismissed the lawsuit but prior to doing so Madam Justice Fisher provided the following criticism:
[23]        It is indeed unfortunate that Ms. Brunac-White made no effort to contact Mr. Tolentino before the limitation period expired. It would have been a simple task that could have served the interests of both parties. However, as the plaintiff concedes, ICBC as the insurer has no duty to advise him about the limitation period. Silence or inaction may be considered a representation only where the representor owes a legal duty to the representee to disclose something or take certain steps: Ryan v Moore, 2005 SCC 38…
[29]        I wish to add, however, that I was disturbed by the adjuster’s approach in this case. She sought to rely on an “agreement” with the plaintiff about the next steps but when he did not contact her after several months, she ought to have considered that there could have been a misunderstanding. While she may not have been successful in making contact with the plaintiff given his history, her failure to make any attempt to contact him before the limitation period expired was in my view unreasonable. She had a telephone number and could have left him a message. Although she did not have a legal duty to do so, given her knowledge of the claim, this would have been a more reasonable and fair approach.
[30]        The plaintiff’s action is dismissed…
 

$60,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Back Soft Tissue Injury

Reasons for judgement were released last month by the BC Supreme Court, Kamloops Registry, assessing damages for a chronic soft tissue injury following a collision.
In the recent case (Cartwright v. Cartwright) the 15 year old plaintiff was injured as a passenger in a single vehicle collision.  The driver admitted liability.  The Plaintiff suffered a soft tissue injury to her back which resulted in chronic symptoms.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $60,000 Madam Justice Fisher provided the following reasons:
[20] There is no question that Ms. Cartwright suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck and back in the motor vehicle accident on June 17, 2007, which resulted in ongoing pain symptoms. She had pain immediately following the accident and has continued to have pain throughout her back since that time. The issue is the extent to which this ongoing pain has affected and will continue to affect her life…

[22] I found Ms. Cartwright to be a credible witness but a poor historian about the nature and intensity of her pain symptoms and how they affected her life and her work. I agree with the defendant that she provided little detail about her symptoms. At the time of the accident, she said that her neck and shoulders were “sore” and her back was “just stiff”. She said it was painful working in that she had to rely on others to do things like move tables and chairs and carry pallets of cutlery. Other than that, she described things as being “difficult” or “painful”, and said that she was not able to work because of “back pain.”  Surprisingly, she said nothing about the effect of her pregnancy on her back pain. She said that she can get headaches two to three times a week and migraines “at least a couple a month”, but said nothing about how intense they are or how they affect her. She said that she went to a counsellor “a few times for anxiety about the accident” and she still has anxiety “towards vehicles” without describing in any way the anxiety and how it affects her.

[23] This lack of any detail makes it difficult to assess the nature and severity of Ms. Cartwright’s ongoing pain. However, I am satisfied that her evidence, along with the medical evidence, establishes that she suffered strain to the muscles and ligaments of the thoracic and lumbar regions and strain to the muscles of the cervical region as a result of the accident. I accept Dr. Farren’s description of Ms. Cartwright’s back pain as “moderate in severity and chronic in nature”. There is no evidence about the severity and nature of her headaches or the nature and extent of the anxiety she experienced as a result of the accident.

[24] These injuries have caused her ongoing and chronic symptoms of myofascial back pain, some tension headaches and a modest exacerbation of a pre-existing tendency towards migraines. The chronic back pain will likely continue but there is a substantial possibility that it will diminish with proper rehabilitation that includes a regular exercise program…

[48] Ms. Cartwright has been moderately affected by her chronic back pain and will continue to be affected by it in the future, but there is a substantial possibility that the pain will diminish and be quite manageable with proper rehabilitation and regular exercise. Given the evidence and relevant factors in this case, it is my view that a fair award of non-pecuniary damages is $60,000.

Plaintiff At Fault in Fatal Tractor Trailer Collision for Running Stop Sign

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with the issue of fault following a two vehicle collision.
In last week’s case (Rackstraw v. Robertson) the Plaintiff was involved in a collision with a tractor trailer.  The tractor trailer was travelling Northbound on Mount Lehman Road.  The Plaintiff was travelling eastbound on Sunset Crescent which forms a T-intersection with Mount Lehman Road.

The Defendant “decided to pass a northbound vehicle ahead of him”.   To do so he accelerated above the speed limit and had to travel in the southbound lane.  As he did so he saw the Plaintiff approach the intersection and run the stop sign which was facing him on Sunset Crescent.  The vehicles collided and the Plaintiff died shortly after.
Ultimately the Plaintiff was found fully at fault for the collision.  In reaching this conclusion Madam Justice Fisher provided the following reasons:
[25] Mr. Rackstraw owed a duty of care to other drivers travelling on Mount Lehman Road, in particular Mr. Robertson.  He breached that duty by failing to stop at the stop sign, failing to keep a proper lookout and failing to yield to the Robertson vehicle when he entered the roadway on Mount Lehman Road.  Mr. Rackstraw was the servient driver at all times…
[32] …. the fact that Robertson was travelling over the speed limit will only constitute negligence if his speed is what prevented him from taking reasonable evasive action: see Cooper v. Garrett, 2009 BCSC 35 at para. 42.  In my view, there is no evidence which establishes that Robertson’s speed prevented him from doing so. His truck was just about at the intersection when he first saw Rackstraw’s vehicle, and only his trailer, or part of it, was still in the southbound lane when the impact occurred…
[37]it is my opinion that the accident in the case at bar was caused solely by the failure of Mr. Rackstraw to stop at the stop sign, to keep a proper lookout and to yield to the Robertson vehicle when he entered the roadway on Mount Lehman Road.  When Robertson started his pass, there was no reason for him to believe that he could not do so safely or that he would interfere with the travel of another vehicle.  As in Ferguson, he was engaged in a lawful manoeuvre.  He did not see, and could not reasonably have seen, the Rackstraw vehicle until he was just about at the intersection and he had no reasonable opportunity to avoid the collision.

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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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