Reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for bilateral thoracic outlet syndrome and other chronic soft tissue injuries.
In yesterday’s case (Olson v. Ironside) the Plaintiff was involved in a ‘signigicant collision’ in 2008. ICBC admitted fault on behalf of the Defendant. The Court heard competing evidence with respect to the extent of the Plaintiff’s injuries and ultimately sided with the Plaintiff’s experts noting ICBC’s expert failed “to consider significant material facts“. The 19 year old Plaintiff suffered multiple injuries, the most serious of which was bilateral thoracic outlet syndrome. These were expected to cause a permanent partial disability limiting the Plaintiff for the balance of her working years. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $100,000 Mr. Justice Josephson provided the following reasons for judgement:
The plaintiff has proved that, but for the accident, she would have continued her healthy, active and outgoing life style. I accept the plaintiff’s submission that the following injuries were caused by the accident:
1. chronic soft tissue injuries with myofascial pain in her neck and upper back present on a daily basis;
2. chronic soft tissue injuries with myofascial pain in her lower back present on an intermittent basis;
3. chronic cervicogenic headaches present on a daily basis;
7. major depressive disorder, presently in remission;
8 post-traumatic stress disorder, presently in partial remission; and
9. permanent right temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
The accident had a dramatic effect on all aspects of this young plaintiff’s life because of the symptoms listed in the previous paragraph. She has learned to cope as best she can with those symptoms, but is unlikely to fully recover.
Of the several case authorities cited by the plaintiff to assist the Court in determining non-pecuniary damages in the case at bar, the most helpful are Parfitt v. Mayes et al, 2006 BCSC 125; Houston v. Kine, 2010 BCSC 1289; Murphy v. Jagerhofer, 2009 BCSC 335;Prince-Wright v. Copeman, 2005 BCSC 1306; and Ashmore v. Banicevic, 2009 BCSC 211. The non-pecuniary damages awards in these cases range from $80,000 to $120,000.
After reviewing the authorities cited to me and considering the impact of the proven injuries on the plaintiff’s daily life, I award the plaintiff $100,000 for non-pecuniary damages, which I consider to be a mid-range award for the circumstances of this case.
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, dealing with the duty of Pedestrians to use a sidewalk or crosswalk where one is available.
In today’s case (Larsen v. Doe) the pedestrian Plaintiff was struck by a vehicle while “walking in a T intersection normally used by vehicles“. There was no marked pedestrian walkway where the collision occurred however there was a sidewalk nearby and “if the pedestrian had taken the sidewalk, her path would cross the street within the unmarked crosswalk much closer to the stop sign from which the vehicle departed“. The collision was a hit and run and the identity of the driver/owner of the vehicle remained unknown at the time of trial.
As permitted by section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act the Plaintiff sued ICBC directly as a nominal defendant seeking compensation for her injuries. ICBC, in the place of the unknown motorist, was found liable for the collision. ICBC argued that the Plaintiff should be found partially at fault for not utilizing the nearby sidewalk. Mr. Justice Josephson agreed with this submission. In finding the plaintiff 25% at fault for the collision Mr. Justice Josephson provided the following analysis:
 The plaintiff argues that, as she was walking along the highway, she had either entered the intersection or was approaching so closely that she constituted an immediate hazard to the defendant driver. Consequently, the defendant was obligated to yield the right of way to the plaintiff and, had she done so, could have proceeded after the plaintiff cleared the intersection.
 While ss. 175 and 119, taken together, give through traffic the right of way, s. 175 does not grant to pedestrians travelling along a highway the right to proceed on the roadway itself where a sidewalk or a crosswalk is available. No authorities have found otherwise.
 Furthermore, the plaintiff’s submission that s. 175 grants pedestrians the right of way in travelling along a roadway runs contrary to s. 182(1) of the MVA which provides that, where there is a sidewalk, a pedestrian should avail herself of it.
 Therefore, I find that the plaintiff was in breach of her statutory duties under s. 180 and/or s. 182(1) of the MVA and cannot invoke s. 175 in such a way as to override those duties…
 In the case at bar, I find that the plaintiff’s breach of her statutory duties under the MVA did contribute to the accident and, consequently, the injuries she sustained. Because she chose to walk along the roadway behind the diagonal parking stalls, the plaintiff made herself less visible to the defendant than had she chosen to cross the intersection within the unmarked crosswalk according to her duties under the MVA. While the plaintiff believed the defendant driver saw her and was waiting for her to cross the intersection, she should have reasonably perceived the danger the defendant’s car presented given the minimal lighting in the intersection and given that a driver would not expect pedestrians to emerge into the intersection from the other side of the parking stalls when there was a sidewalk and crosswalk available to her.
 I conclude that liability should be apportioned 75% to the driver and 25% to the plaintiff.
This case is also worth reviewing for the Court’s discussion of a Plaintiff’s duties to ascertain the identify of the Driver in Hit and Run Claims. In order to successfully sue ICBC under s. 24 of the Insurance Vehicle Act a Plaintiff needs to make “all reasonable efforts…to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver“. Here ICBC argued that the Plaintiff, despite being hit unexpectedly and having a compound wrist fracture, unreasonably failed to obtain identifying information with respect to the offending vehicle. The Court disagreed with this submission finding that the Plaintiff was in shock and that her failure to identify the motorist was not unreasonable, specifically the court found as follows:
 In determining whether a claimant has made all reasonable efforts, the court must have regard to the subjective condition of the claimant at the time of the accident: see Leggett v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (1992), 96 D.L.R. (4th) 123, 72 B.C.L.R. (2d) 201 (C.A.) [Leggett cited to B.C.L.R.] at para. 12. Therefore, where a claimant fails to obtain the identity of the driver or owner at the time of the accident because she was in a state of shock, the claimant will not be held to have acted unreasonably. In order to find that a claimant was in a state of shock, medical evidence is not required; a finding that the claimant was “taken by surprise and confused” is sufficient: see Hocaluk v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia, 2007 BCSC 170, 69 B.C.L.R. (4th) 360 at para. 56.
 Under subsection (b), the phrase “not ascertainable” should not be strictly interpreted to mean “could not possibly have been ascertained” but, rather, whether the identity of the person “could not have been ascertained had the claimant made all reasonable efforts, having regard to the claimant’s position”: see Leggett at para. 11.
 I am satisfied that the plaintiff was in a significantly altered emotional state following the collision that rendered her incapable of rationally assessing her duties and obligations. With the meaning of Leggett, she was not in a condition that it would have been reasonable for her to discover and record the appropriate information.
 Once recovered, she employed all reasonable efforts to ascertain the identity of the owner and driver. While not all possible efforts were employed, those that were fall well within the classification of “reasonable”.
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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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