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Tag: Mr. Justice Steeves

$65,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Frontal Headaches

Reasons for judgment were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing non-pecuniary damages for chronic headaches caused by a motor vehicle collision.
In this week’s case (Murphy v. Obrien) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2007 collision.  The Defendant accepted liability.  The Plaintiff suffered various soft tissue injuries which posed problems but the most debilitating consequence were chronic frontal headaches which were still symptomatic at the time of trial and expected to continue into the future.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $65,000 Mr. Justice Steeves provided the following reasons:
[51]         There is general acceptance among the experts that the plaintiff suffered a soft tissue injury to his neck on May 17, 2007. There was no fracture, dislocation or nerve root injury. There is restricted range of motion in all directions and even simple tasks such as reading bring on headaches and neck pain. The plaintiff testified that, at times, he actually vomits because of the pain from his headaches. He has tried various treatments with some affect. The most recent has been Botox injections which have given him some relief. For example, Dr. Tsui administered the injections and, in a report dated May 10, 2012, he reported that the plaintiff said “the migrainous headaches have abated since the last treatment.” Similarly a report dated August 15, 2012 reported a “good response in terms of the migraines.” Despite this improvement the frontal headaches continue. The plaintiff’s evidence about his headaches is consistent with that of Dr. Tsui.
[52]         Therefore, the current situation is that the severe migrainous headaches have abated but the frontal headaches remain and they are chronic. I conclude that these headaches, and the neck pain, are as a result of the May 2007 motor vehicle accident. Further, these symptoms are independent of any problems with the left knee although, as will be seen, the left knee is certainly a relevant and complicating factor. These headaches are obviously very real for the plaintiff, with the consequences noted, and they are consistent with the medical evidence…
[62]         Overall, I conclude that an amount of $65,000 is an appropriate amount for non-pecuniary damages in this case. That figure recognizes the chronic frontal headaches. It also recognizes the undoubted emotional toll the headaches have had on his life, including his family, friends and the limitations on activities he used to do before the 2007 accident. And, it recognizes that pain medications for the left knee have played a role in the current situation.
For more BC non-pecuniary assessments for headaches you can click here to search this site’s archives.

Lost "Fringe Benefits" Must Be Taken Into Account When Calculating Diminished Earning Capacity

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, confirming that lost ‘fringe benefits’ are recoverable as part of a diminished earning capacity analysis.
In last week’s case (Combs v. Bergen) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 collision.   She missed several months from work causing a past loss of income of just over $18,000.  During her time off work she lost the benefit of employer contributions to her Canada Pension Plan and to her pension. She sought recovery of these losses.  Mr. Justice Steeves agreed these were compensable and provided the following reasons:
[61]         The plaintiff seeks past income loss in the amount of $18,287.25 and the defendant agrees with this amount. However, the plaintiff also seeks payment for her employer’s contributions to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and s to her pension. These amounts are $831.05 and $1,737.29, respectively. The defendant opposes any payment for these amounts.
[62]         There is authority for the plaintiff’s submission on benefits to the effect that “the compensatory principle requires that the full value of lost fringe benefits must be taken into account when computing loss of working capacity” (Ken Cooper-Stephenson, Personal Injury Damages in Canada, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Carswell, 1996) at 240). This reasoning was adopted by the Newfoundland Court of Appeal in Taylor v. Hogan (1998), 160 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 93 at para. 41 (Nfld. C.A.). I conclude that is appropriate in this case.
[63]         Past income loss is set at $18,287.25 plus CPP and pension contributions. Total is $20,855.59.

Pedestrian Struck in Crosswalk on "Dark and Rainy" Night Not Contributorily Negligent

Adding to this site’s archived cases discussing fault for pedestrian collisions, reasons for judgement were released recently addressing contributory negligence of a pedestrian struck in a marked crosswalk.
In the recent case (Bulatovic v. Siebert) the Plaintiff was struck while crossing Granville Avenue in Vancouver.  She had passed the midway point of the street when struck by the Defendant who was making a left hand turn.

Although there was contradictory evidence about the circumstances of the crash the Court ultimately found that the Plaintiff lawfully entered the crosswalk with a walk signal in her favour and that there was no evidence of contributory negligence.  In finding the Plaintiff faultless for the collision Mr. Justice Steeves provided the following reasons:
[82]         More generally, the reason for the legal protection of pedestrians in crosswalks is the significant inequality in speed and force between a motor vehicle and a pedestrian. A pedestrian is entitled to walk through a crosswalk, taking reasonable precautions consistent with having the right of way, knowing that she is safe. I find that the plaintiff took those precautions and she is entitled to the legal protection of having the right of way under section 132(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act.
[83]         I also adopt the comments of a previous judgement (Hooper v. Nair, 2009 BCSC 862 at para. 32),
I accept the plaintiff’s submission that in order to prove that a plaintiff pedestrian was contributorily negligent, the defendant driver bears the onus of establishing not only inadequate attention on the part of the pedestrian but also must show that by the time the pedestrian realized the driver was not going to yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian, that it would at that point have been possible for the pedestrian to avoid the driver’s car. As well, the driver must show that a reasonable person in the circumstances of the pedestrian would have taken and succeeded in actions which would have avoided impact with the driver’s car:  Olesik v. Mackin (23 February 1987), Vancouver B860365 (S.C.); Pinto v. Rana, [1993] B.C.J. No. 1312 (S.C.).
[84]         I find that the plaintiff stepped into the crosswalk on Granville Avenue, going south, when the pedestrian signal said “Walk”. I accept her evidence that she pushed the button that controlled the pedestrian light and she waited for it to turn to “Walk”. Again, her evidence on this point was not directly challenged. The evidence and submissions that the plaintiff took inadequate attention or could have somehow avoided the accident are not, in my view, persuasive. More persuasive, is the defendant’s evidence that he could have looked to his left in order to see the plaintiff.
[85]         It follows from Section 132(1) and my findings above that the plaintiff entered the crosswalk with a “Walk” signal, that she had the right of way over all vehicles, including the defendant. It also follows that the defendant was negligent in not looking for pedestrians in the crosswalk when he made his left turn. To be clear, I do not find that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.

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