Tag: non-pecuniary damages

The Art of Valuing Pain and Suffering in ICBC Injury Claims

Today reasons for judgment were released by the Vancouver Registry of the BC Supreme Court in 2 separate Injury Claims where Pain and Suffering was valued.  In each case the Plaintiffs suffered different injuries which affected their respective lives to different degrees.  Yet both Plaintiffs were awarded exactly $55,000 for their non-pecuniary damages.  How can this be?  The answer is that valuing claims for pain and suffering is an art, not an exact science.
When asking a personal injury lawyer how much a claim for pain and suffering is worth it is difficult  if not impossible to value a claim at an exact dollar figure.  The only accurate answer is “whatever the judge or jury gives you“.  Instead of attaching an exact dollar figure to any claim personal injury lawyers learn that claims can best be valued within an approximate range of damages.  One judge can award a plaintiff $50,000 for a disc herniation and another can award a plaintiff with the exact same injuries $80,000 and there is nothing wrong in law with this so long as the award falls within the accepted range of damages for similar injuries.
Today’s cases demonstrate this quite well.  In the first case (Morrison v. Gauthier) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 BC Car crash.  Her vehicle was rear-ended in Coquitlam BC.  The Defendant was fully at fault for the crash.
The Plaintiff suffered fairly severe injuries which included an L4-5 disc herniation which from time to time “puts pressure on the L4 nerve root and that the result for the plaintiff is not just pain in the low back – which is always her lot – but intense pain that, amongst other things, travels down the back of her leg“.  In addition to this the Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries and a concussion in the collision.
Mr. Justice Stewart found that the effects of the Plaintiff’s back injuries were likely permanent and had a rather profound impact on her.  He stated that “the effect…on the Plaintiff’s life was dramatic…her capacity to (keep her work and home environment in order) has been severely reduced . ”  He went on to find that the Plaintiff was incredibly athletic before the collision and “was a woman who on the basis of the evidence placed before me, I can only describe as a dynamo” and as a result of the car crash “she became…ornery.  She withdrew from her friends.  She became moody and – stunning for her – one who sat idly watching television and gaining unwelcome weight.  To some extent she became – utterly new to her – a chronic complainer.”  Lastly he stated that (the defendant) “managed to reduce a woman operating at an athletic level undreamt of by 99% of the population to a woman who must now, often, be helped out of a chair.  (the Plaintiff’s) compensable loss if overwhelming“.
Mr. Justice Stewart awarded the Plaintiff $55,000 for her non-pecuniary damages.,
In the second case (O’Rourke v. Kenworthy) released today by the BC Supreme Court the Plaintiff was involved in a 2004 BC Car Crash.  The Defendant was 100% at fault.  Madam Justice Wedge found that the Plaintiff was injured in the crash.  Specifically the court found that the Plaintiff suffered from neck and back pain which was “severe for several months, which then alleviated considerably over the next year or so.”  The Plaintiff curtailed many of the physical activities which she enjoyed by after about a year she “resumed most of these activities despite continuing ot experience pain“.   By the time of trial she “continued to have pain in her neck and back, but it is not disabling.  She has been able to work, and she is currently able to work.  She participates in numerous sporting activities and continues to hike, which is her first love.  She has continued to travel extensively.   No medical professional offered the opinion that (the Plaintiff’s) pain is chronic in nature, or that it is caused by anything other than soft tissue injuries.  They all agreed that her symptoms are expected to improve and will likely resolve gradually over time…At most (the Plaintiff) is at risk of suffering exacerbation’s of her pain if she engages in certain rigorous activities.”
Scrutinizing the facts of the above two cases the first Plaintiff appears to have suffered more severe injuries which had a more profound effect on her life.  Yet both were awarded the exact same figure for pain and suffering.  This does not necessarily mean that either award was wrong in law, rather the difference can readily be explained by the fact that pain and suffering awards are assessed within rather large ranges of acceptable damages.  A more severe injury valued on the lower end of its respective range of damages can equal a more minor injury valued on the generous end of its range.
In the end, cases like this speak to the art of assessing pain and suffering in BC Injury Claims.  As with any art ‘feel‘ becomes important and this is gained through time and experience.  The more cases you read, the better you will get at the art of valuing non-pecuniary damages and determining the potential value of any given BC Injury Claim.

"Moderate to Severe" Soft Tissue Injury Non-Pecuniary Damages Assessed at $55,000

Reasons for judgment were released earlier this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, awarding a Plaintiff approximately $85,000 in total damages from a 2004 BC Car Crash.
This case (BMM v. MLV) contains lengthy reasons that largely deal with the Plaintiff’s pre and post accident psychological difficulties.  Ultimately the Court rejected the Plaintiff’s claim that her pre-existing depression was affected by the accident.  Madam Justice Ballance concluded that “the evidence does not show that the Plaintiff’s pain and discomfort from her physical injuries caused by the Accident, exacerbated, compounded or intensified her Depression.”  Paragraphs 159-190 contain the Court’s reasoning behind this conclusion and are worth reviewing for anyone interested in seeing how BC Courts can deal with a claim that pre-existing psychological injuries are aggravated by a collision.
The Court did find, however, that the Plaintiff suffered “moderate to severe” soft tissue injuries and assessed the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $55,000.  In reaching this figure Madam Justice Ballance summarized her findings and engaged in the following analysis:
[199] The plaintiff experienced moderate to severe soft tissue injuries to her neck and back as a result of the Accident. Although her shoulders were also implicated and she had initial sleep disturbance and was plagued with low-grade headaches that occasionally developed into migraine-like discomfort, the primary area of injury was her low back and her related left hip discomfort. I accept that during their acute phase, these injuries caused persistent and sometimes severe discomfort and pain to the plaintiff, and disabled her from attending work. Following her leave from work in 2005 and her intensive physiotherapy program, her symptoms improved significantly. She continued to be susceptible to flare-ups of her symptoms throughout the summer of 2005. Her discomfort prompted the plaintiff to attend a program at the CBI which she found considerably beneficial in improving her soft tissue injuries.
[200] I find that by the end of 2005, the plaintiff’s physical symptoms had largely settled, but had not resolved entirely. She was not restored to her pre-Accident condition at that time. I am satisfied that after that stage, the plaintiff experienced intermittent low back symptoms and associated pain throughout 2006 and continuing forward. Those episodes were infrequent but sufficiently bothersome to prompt her to obtain treatment from Dr. Weiss in late 2007 and endure two excruciating injections. I think that the plaintiff will probably experience intermittent bouts of low back discomfort caused by the Accident into the foreseeable future. The evidence indicates that those episodes will continue to be infrequent and rather mild in nature.
[201] I accept that the physical symptoms caused by the Accident brought about unwelcome and disruptive changes to the plaintiff’s enjoyment and quality of her life, especially during the first twelve months after the Accident. She was no longer the fun-loving and enthusiastic person familiar to her son, sister and co-workers. In time, she was able to gradually reintroduce and enjoy certain pursuits such as walking and some gardening, and bike-riding using her electric bike. I have found it challenging to attempt to parse out the changes in the plaintiff’s personality and life which can be said to be attributable to her physical injuries from the Accident, from those associated with her ongoing and severe bouts of Depression, which adversely affected her life but are unconnected to the Accident. I conclude that the enjoyment of certain of her activities was negatively affected at times by her low mood. Even the plaintiff agreed that her gardening could be affected by her mood. While I accept that in the first year or so following the Accident, the plaintiff’s physical symptoms made it uncomfortable for her to attend the usual family functions and pursue her normal community and political interests, I find that her sustained withdrawal from those endeavours and detachment from her sister and other extended family, are due to the plaintiff’s psychological state unrelated to the Accident….
204] Having reviewed the authorities provided by the parties, and considered the totality of the evidence pertaining to the plaintiff’s specific circumstances, I conclude that a fair and reasonable award for non-pecuniary damages is $55,000. A deduction of 5% is to be taken to reflect the measurable risk that her low back symptoms would have manifested without the Accident.

$45,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Aggravation of Chronic Pain

Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, awarding a Plaintiff damages for accident related injuries.
In today’s case (Cheng v. Kamboz) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2005 BC Car Crash. The other motorist admitted fault.  The issue the court dealt with was quantum of damages (value of the Plaintiff’s claim).
Mr. Justice Myers found that the Plaintiff suffered from pre-existing chronic pain at the time of the crash.  Specifically he found that the Plaintiff suffered from headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, hip pain and low back pain.  Notwithstanding these pre-accident complaints the Court found that the Plaintiff’s pre-existing “chronic pain” was transformed into a “chronic pain syndrome” as a result of the collision.  In valuing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $45,000 for this aggravation Mr. Justice Myers reasoned as follows:

[39]    I find that before the accident Ms. Cheng was suffering – to a lesser extent – from all the pain of which she now complains.  Ms. Cheng says that she had no hip pain before the accident; however, that is not what she told Dr. Feldman when she mentioned what she referred to as being symptomatic of myasthenia gravis, to which I referred above at para. 29.  Whether it was caused by the myasthenia gravis is, in this context, beside the point.

[40]    Ms. Cheng was suffering from headaches prior to the accident in question.  While she says they are more frequent now, the difference is minimal.  Further, they are often brought on by stress at work and that is a variable which has nothing to do with the accident.

[41]    That said, the accident exacerbated the injuries and escalated chronic pain into chronic pain syndrome.  Causation for the exacerbation and chronic pain syndrome has been shown.  The harm caused by the defendant is divisible from the harm caused by the prior accidents and the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition.  To be clear, this is not the type of case, as was Athey v. Leonati, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 458, in which a pre-existing condition of the plaintiff made him more amenable to a specific injury (a disc herniation).

[42]    Damages are to be assessed on the basis that Ms. Cheng is to be put in the position she was before the accident, but not in a better position.

[43]    Ms. Cheng referred me to cases in which the damage range was between $80,000 and $100,000.  The defendants’ cases ranged from $35,000 to $60,000.

[44]    The injuries will not result in a drastic change of lifestyle for Ms. Cheng.  As I have noted, she was not physically active before the accident.  None of the doctors have opined that she will not be able to resume the limited walking she was doing before the accident.  The same can be said with respect to going to the theatre.  The migraines were present before the accident and her reduced playing of video games because of the migraines cannot be blamed to any substantial degree on the accident.

[45]    On the other hand it must be recognised that the accident did cause her chronic pain syndrome and that it is likely to continue for some time.

[46]    In my view, the proper assessment of damages for the exacerbation of Ms. Cheng’s prior injuries and the addition of the chronic pain syndrome is $45,000.

Bus Driver Found at Fault for Injuries to Passenger, $38,000 Non-Pecs for Fractured Wrist

In reasons for judgment published today on the BC Supreme Court website (Patoma v. Clarke) a Plaintiff was awarded $38,000 for non-pecuniary damages for injuries he sustained while on a Translink bus.
The Plaintiff was injured when he was thrown to the floor of a bus as a result of the driver’s sudden braking.  The key facts and the law surrounding this finding were summarized and applied by Madam Justice Fenlon as follows:

[2] As the defendant Mr. Clarke put his bus in motion to leave the stop, two young women, the defendants Claudia Wang and Jane Doe, who were running across the street mid-block to catch the bus, suddenly appeared in front of the bus. Mr. Clarke braked to avoid hitting the young women.

[3] As a result of the sudden braking, Mr. Patoma was thrown to the floor of the bus, and fractured his left wrist….

[6] It is clear that bus drivers owe a duty of care to their passengers based on the reasonable foreseeability test. The standard of care is the conduct or behaviour that would be expected of the reasonably prudent bus driver in the circumstances. This is an objective test that takes into consideration both the experience of the average bus driver, and what the driver knew or should have known:  Wang v. Horrod (1998), 48 B.C.L.R. (3d) 199 (C.A.).

[7] I note that the standard to be applied to the bus driver is not one of perfection. Nor is the transit company in effect to be an insurer for any fall or mishap that occurs on a bus.

[8] The first question I must address is whether Samuel Clarke met the standard of care he owed to his passengers as he pulled his bus away from the bus stop that August night…

[27]         From Mr. Clarke’s description, I find that he was looking in his left side mirror as he took his foot off the brake, and that he permitted the bus to move albeit ever so slightly, before looking forward and without checking through his left blind spot. That is why he did not see the pedestrians, who must have been in that blind spot, as he lifted his foot from the brake and the bus started to move.

[28]         In my view, the driver either failed to check that blind spot as he started to lift his foot off the brake, or failed to sweep the area to the left of the bus far enough out to detect the two young women as he moved to check his left mirror before he pulled out. The two pedestrians were, at that time, crossing the street in some fashion from his left….

[31] In the case at bar, the driver set the bus in motion, albeit ever so slightly, without noticing two pedestrians already in the street and moving to cross in front of the bus, causing him to have to brake suddenly.

In assessing the Plaintiff’s claim for non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $38,000 Madam Justice Fenlon summarized the Plaintiff’s injuries as follows:

[42]         The fracture Mr. Patoma sustained could not be set despite two attempts. He was required to undergo surgery with external pins to set bones in place. The surgery occurred eight days after the accident. The external fixator was removed on September 29, 2005, approximately five weeks after the surgery. Mr. Patoma underwent physiotherapy, beginning mid-October, attending four times and then two sessions in the months following until February 2006. He engaged in daily exercises to strengthen his wrist.

[43]         I find Mr. Patoma worked hard at his rehabilitation. By 2007, about two years after the accident, he was fully recovered except for occasional cramping or tightness in the muscles of his left hand. It is unlikely that Mr. Patoma will develop arthritis in his wrist or need further surgery, according to the medical report of Dr. Perry.

[44]         During the healing process, Mr. Patoma could not garden during part of 2006. He is an avid tennis player, and he could not play tennis or badminton in the fall of 2005. But the biggest impact by far of the injury was on Mr. Patoma’s ability to play the bagpipes. He told the court that he engaged in competitions in his youth. At one point, he took lessons from the personal piper to Queen Elizabeth. He said that classical Highland piping requires considerable dexterity in the fingers.

[45]         There was evidence that playing the bagpipes was an important part of Mr. Patoma’s daily life. He is a bachelor and lives alone, and he said that he played in the morning and the evening, and it brought him great comfort. It was a cause of real concern that his fingers were too stiff for him to play without slurring, and for him to play with the kind of skill and at the level he was accustomed to. He said that, when he found he could not play, he was gripped by worry and anxiety.

[46]         Mr. Patoma happily reported at trial that, by 2007, he had made a “terrific recovery”. He said that at 71, he still has the dexterity in his fingers that he had as a teenager….

[48] I find that an appropriate quantum of damages to compensate Mr. Patoma for his pain and suffering and temporary loss of enjoyment of life is $38,000.

More ICBC Injury Claims Updates – The Kelowna Road Edition

I’m just finishing up another business trip to Kelowna BC and have been greeted by a heavy load of ICBC Injury Claims judgments released by the BC Supreme Court.  Given this volume (and being pressed for time working on the road) this Injury Claims update will be shorter on detail than usual.
4 cases worth noting were released today by the BC Supreme Court.  The first deals with the issue of fault and the others deal with damages (value of the the claims).
In the first case released today (Hynna v. Peck) the Plaintiff was injured in a car accident.  She was attempting to cross 10th Avenue, in Vancouver, BC when she was struck by a westbound vehicle near her driver’s side door.
The Plaintiff had a stop sign and was the ‘servient driver’.  The court found that the Plaintiff was careless when she left the stop sign as she tried to cross the intersection when it was not safe to do so.    Specifically the court found that the Plaintiff entered the intersection when the dominant on-coming driver posed an immediate hazard and the Plaintiff “either did not see him or saw him but failed to reasonably appreciate the threat of his approach”
The court also found that the Defendant was speeding.  The court concluded that he was at fault for this and in doing so made the following finding and analysis:

[84] I have found that Mr. Peck was speeding along West 10th at between 83.5 and 86 km/h as he approached the Intersection.  He was moving at that rapid pace when he first noticed the Hynna car stopped on Camosun Street.  The evidence demonstrates that but for Mr. Peck’s excessive speed of travel, he would have been able to take reasonable measures to avoid the accident and the accident would not then have occurred.  I also find fault with Mr. Peck for failing to keep a proper look-out.  He could not have maintained a proper look-out as he sped toward Ms. Hynna after taking the momentary second glance her way.  That is why he did not see her pull into the Intersection when he was 62 to 65 metres away.  The skid mark evidence, as interpreted by Mr. Brown, together with the testimony of Mr. Dales, establishes on balance that Mr. Peck was significantly closer to the Intersection when he finally noticed and reacted to Ms. Hynna coming into his path and slammed on his brakes.  To Mr. Peck’s mind, Ms. Hynna had suddenly appeared in front of him.  Yet the evidence shows that was not the case: she did not dart out in front of him at the last minute at a rapid rate of acceleration.  The accident here was not tantamount to a head-on collision as in Cooper.

[85] In Mr. Brown’s opinion, had Mr. Peck been doing the speed limit he could have braked to a stop in about 11.9 to 13.1 metres.  Adjusting for my finding that Mr. Peck was closer to the area of impact when Ms. Hynna entered into the Intersection than the distance estimated by Mr. Brown, I still find that, had he not been speeding and had been maintaining a proper look-out, he could have stopped in plenty of time to permit Ms. Hynna to complete her manoeuvre without mishap.

[86] I conclude that the conduct of each Mr. Peck and Ms. Hynna was negligent and combined to cause the accident.

Madam Justice Ballance apportioned 60% of the blame for this accident on the Defendant and 40% on the Plaintiff.  This case is worth reviewing in full for the court’s discussion of the law in these types of accidents.
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The second case released today by the BC Supreme Court (Lakhani v. Elliott) the issue of fault was admitted and the court had to deal with the quantum of damages.
In this case the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 BC Car Crash.   In awarding just over $105,000 in total damages Mr. Justice Voith summarized the Plaintiff’s injuries and their effect on her life as follows:
88] In my view it is clear that Mrs. Lakhani did suffer from a series of injuries as a result of the Accident. Except for her lower back and left leg, she had never suffered from any of these difficulties prior to the Accident. There is no disagreement between the experts on the issue of causation in relation to these various injuries. While Mrs. Lakhani had experienced symptoms in her lower back and left leg these symptoms were temporarily aggravated as a result of the Accident….

[91] I find that a number of Mrs. Lakhani’s symptoms were fully resolved within one to six months of the Accident. Others have persisted, albeit it to differing degrees, to this date. While I do not accept that these symptoms have consistently been as severe as Mrs. Lakhani indicated, I do accept that they have caused her some pain and discomfort. A number of persons, including a former housekeeper, Ms. Kar, and Mrs. Lakhani’s co-worker Ms. Cousins, have given evidence about her present condition. These witnesses indicated that they have observed Mrs. Lakhani struggling with various tasks. Her husband also gave evidence about Mrs. Lakhani’s post-Accident condition. While his evidence (as with so much of the plaintiff’s case) seem to focus on Mrs. Lakhani’s limitations without any or adequate recognition about her pre-Accident condition, I do accept that the injuries associated with the Accident have increased Mrs. Lakhani’s difficulties. For example, I accept that she had headaches when she studied. I accept that sitting at a computer caused her additional difficulties. I accept that her exercise regime in the gym has changed somewhat so that she no longer exercises with light weights as she once did. I accept that she is required to ensure her workstations are properly set up to minimize difficulties with her neck and shoulder. I also accept that the difficulties Mrs. Lakhani has had in her neck, shoulder and upper back limits her ability to cope with her low back injury. A number of professional witnesses indicated that persons who have low back injuries can often adapt by undertaking more functions or tasks with their upper back and shoulders. In the case of Mrs. Lakhani, the ability to alleviate the strain or load on her low back in this manner has been obviated.

[92] It is also clear that Mrs. Lakhani has consistently sought different types of treatment to assist with her post-Accident condition. For a few months immediately after the Accident she obtained physiotherapy and massage treatments. In about April 2006 she began to see Dr. Khan regularly; she presently sees him every third week or so. Since December 2008 she has been getting cranial massage treatments. All of this is consistent with Mrs. Lakhani continuing to suffer with some of the after effects of the Accident.

[93] Mrs. Lakhani formerly enjoyed needlepoint and would periodically paint small ornaments, particularly at Christmas. She says she no longer enjoys these activities because they cause her some neck pain. I accept this evidence.

[94] As mentioned above, Mrs. Lakhani is a very avid gardener. She says the Accident has inhibited her ability to engage in this activity. I will return to this later when I deal with issues related to the cost of future care, but I find that Mrs. Lakhani’s present ability to garden is largely unchanged from that which she enjoyed prior to the Accident.

[95] I have said that Mrs. Lakhani described the sadness she felt in not being able to play with her daughter as she had hoped. I have no doubt that such limitations are very disheartening, but as I have indicated, I find that many of these limitations are a function of her pre-Accident condition. Apart from examples I have already given, Mrs. Lakhani described her inability to help her daughter learn to ride a bicycle. Such an activity, which requires running, bending and strength to balance the bicycle, would have all been extremely difficult for Mrs. Lakhani before the Accident. There are, however, some activities, such as carrying her child when she was an infant, which were likely rendered more difficult and painful as a result of the Accident.

[96] Mrs. Lakhani was a very avid reader prior to the Accident. She said she would often read for over an hour before she went to sleep. At present, she rarely reads more than 15 to 20 minutes. I accept that some of this is likely referable to the Accident. Much of it, however, seems to reflect another significant difficulty with the plaintiff’s case. I have described how carefully Mrs. Lakhani was required to balance her various commitments with her leisure time in order to protect her lower back. This leisure time was necessary to enable her to recuperate from various daily demands. Yet the fact is that Mrs. Lakhani has continued to add obligations and activities to her day-to-day life subsequent to the Accident.

Damages were awarded as follows:

Non-Pecuaniary Damages:   $45,000

Income Loss:  $8,771.97

Future Loss of Opportunity:  $30,000

Special Damages:  $12,045.96

Cost of Future Care:  $5,500

Loss of Houskeeeping Capacity:  $3,721

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The next case dealing with damages (Lidher v. Toews) involved a 2004 BC collision.

The Plaintiff testified that she suffered injuries affecting “her neck, shoulders, arms, back and head.“.   Madam Justice Smith found that the Plaintiff indeed was injured in this collision and awarded total damages just above $76,000 then reduced these by 10% for the Plaintiff’s ‘failure to mitigate‘.  Specifically the court found that the Plaintiff “did not do what she could reasonably have been expected to do  to keep herself from becoming deconditioned, and that some reduction of her award for failure to mitigate would be appropriate

In assessing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $30,000 the court made the following key findings:

[78] I have concluded that the plaintiff has reacted more significantly to her injuries than someone else might have, and, in addition, that she has exaggerated her symptoms.  I note that the stresses and difficulties in her life may have made her more susceptible to pain, and may explain her reaction to her injuries.  I also take into account that she is not a sophisticated or highly educated woman, and that her communications with health care providers have often been through interpreters, except where the health care provider is Punjabi-speaking (Dr. Khunkhun and Dr. Johal are able to speak Punjabi).  There may well have been miscommunication as a result.

[79] The weight of the evidence satisfies me that the motor vehicle accident caused Ms. Lidher to experience pain and other symptoms from December 11, 2004 to the present.  Her symptoms may have been exacerbated by family stress, but to the extent that the family stress has caused her to experience the injuries more significantly than she otherwise would, it is an example of the principle that the defendant must take the plaintiff as she is found.  It is possible that family stress would have caused her to miss some work in any event, but I do not find this to be more than a slight possibility.

[80] The evidence as to whether Ms. Lidher will experience a full recovery is unclear.  However, both Dr. Hershler and Dr. Khunkhun expressed some optimism, particularly given the good results obtained by the Karp Rehabilitation program in 2008.

[81] On the balance of probabilities, I find that the plaintiff will likely experience further recovery, to the point that her symptoms will be minimal.  Her symptoms are already at a modest level.

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In the final personal injury case released today by the BC Supreme Court (Sanders v. Janze) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2002 car crash in Richmond, BC.  Fault was admitted and the trial focussed solely on quantum of damages.

The Plaintiff had suffered other injuries in the years before this collision and was still recovering from these at the time of this accident.

Mr. Justice Butler found that the Plaintiff suffered a neck injury and a back injury in this collision.  With respect to the neck he found as follows:

[67] The pre-existing degenerative changes in Ms. Sanders’ cervical spine made her more susceptible to injury.  She was still experiencing some pain and discomfort in her neck from the 2002 injuries, but it had improved and was not disabling.  The Accident aggravated the existing condition of her spine.  The nature and extent of her symptoms changed.  The pain and inability to function that she experienced after the Accident persisted and ultimately led to surgery in 2004.

[68] Dr. Connell’s evidence that there was no structural change in the cervical spine before and after the Accident based on the diagnostic imaging does not negate the opinion of Drs. Matishak and Watt that the Accident was an effective cause of the neck injuries that led to the surgery in 2004.  I accept Dr. Matishak’s opinion as the treating surgeon.  He was adamant that the Accident was a cause of the significant problems that Ms. Sanders experienced in her neck.  He was cross-examined extensively on the issue.  He did not waiver in his view.

With respect to the Plaintiff’s back injury the court found as follows:

[72] I have already found that Ms. Sanders’ low back was not symptomatic before the Accident.  She had experienced back pain from time to time since 1993, but after 1999 the low back was quiescent.  She worked at physically demanding jobs without experiencing low back pain.  In other words, a careful examination of Ms. Sanders’ pre-Accident condition establishes that Dr. Matishak’s assumption that her back condition was quiescent is correct….

[75] There can be no question that the Accident did cause Ms. Sanders’ back to become symptomatic.  She continued to experience pain from the date of the Accident onwards.  However, Mr. Janze also argues that Ms. Sanders’ absence of impairment on the SLR test in the months immediately after the Accident is objective evidence to show that the Accident did not affect her low back spinal structure.  Drs. Watt and Matishak were cross-examined on this issue.  Both maintained that this fact did not cause them to alter their opinions.  They both noted that there were symptoms of radiating leg pain shortly after the Accident.  Approximately six months after the Accident, Ms. Sanders’ SLR test revealed impairment on the right side….

[77] There is no other possible event or cause that could explain the development of the symptomology in this case.  The fact that the surgeries did not take place until 2007 does not mean that the Accident was not a cause of the injuries that ultimately led to those surgeries.  I have found that the symptoms and back pain were caused by the Accident.  Those symptoms persisted and became chronic.  The conservative treatment attempted did not provide relief.  Consequently, Ms. Sanders chose surgery.  The fact that three surgeries were required was a direct result of the condition of her spine after the Accident.  In summary, when the temporal connection is examined closely, it does establish that the Accident was a cause of the low back pain.

The court assessed the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $150,000 but then reduced this award by 40% t “to take into account the measureable risk that Ms. Sanders’ pre-existing conditions of her spine would have detrimentally impacted Ms. Sanders in any event of the Accident”

This case is worth reviewing in full for anyone interested in the law in BC relating to “pre-existing conditions” and the “crumbling skull” defence which is often raised in ICBC Injury Claims.

Whew…Now to catch my plane.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Chronic Pain Valued at $125,000

Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court dealing with compensation for serious injuries including Mild Traumatic Brain injury and Chronic Pain.
In today’s case (Slocombe v. Wowchuck) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 rear-end BC Car Crash.  Liability was admitted so the trial focused solely on quantum of damages.  The Plaintiff suffered serious injuries.   Total damages of over $940,000 were awarded by Madam Justice Morrison including an award of $125,000 for non-pecuniary damages.  In assessing the this head of damage the court summarized the Plaintiff’s injuries and their effect on his life as follows:

[197] This was an accident that has caused serious injuries to the plaintiff.  He suffered a mild traumatic brain injury that he appears to have recovered fully from at this point in time.  Dr. Kaushansky did testify that the plaintiff could be at risk if there were a further blow to his head.

[198] The injury to the plaintiff’s sternum no longer poses problems.  There has been a full recovery.

[199] The plaintiff still experiences headaches following the accident.  However, the serious headaches have been resolved, and the headaches the plaintiff now gets are certainly real, but they are not of the serious and disabling nature that they were initially.

[200] Mr. Slocombe still complains of some neck problems, but these complaints are periodic, and are not the cause of his serious complaints at this time.

[201] The second worst injury was to the thoracic spine area.  This pain continues, and has been referred to as a soft tissue type of injury.  Dr. Rothwell was of the opinion that the degenerative disc disease processes have been generated in the spine, including the thoracic spine area by the motor vehicle accident.  It is unlikely that there will be further recovery in this area.  I accept this opinion.

[202] The most serious area of injury is to the lumbosacral spine area.  This injury began at the instant of the double impact of the accident, and has continued to a painful degree to this day.  I conclude that the chronic pain has had a profound effect on the plaintiff’s life in all areas, and will continue to do so.  I accept the evidence of the plaintiff’s medical experts who find the motor vehicle accident was the cause of this injury.

[203] Mr. Slocombe had a pre-existing asymptomatic spondylolisthesis, and in my view, this became symptomatic as a result of the accident.  That is the only conclusion that can be reached, from all the evidence, on a balance of probabilities.

[204] There was medical evidence at trial that there are other areas of injury in the lumbar spine area in addition to the spondylolisthesis that have now been rendered symptomatic.

[205] When working at his carpentry, Mr. Slocombe is making mistakes that he was not making prior to the accident.  He is experiencing some cognitive difficulties which the doctors, including Dr. van Rijn and Dr. Mok as well as Dr. Kaushansky attribute to the pain and mood difficulties that he has been experiencing since the accident.  These difficulties are particularly apparent the longer Mr. Slocombe works.  They have been confirmed by testing and also by the evidence not only of the plaintiff but also of his father and Mr. Graham, one of his clients.  These cognitive difficulties are continuing…

[229] Tom Slocombe’s life has changed dramatically due to the accident.  He no longer has the high energy, endurance and health to perform the work that he loves, carpentry, or to take part in the social and sporting activities that gave him such pleasure.  He is in constant pain, and will probably be for the rest of his life.  He was an active, fun-loving 25 year old with a good job, good prospects, and a steady girlfriend who became his fiancée.  He had a vehicle that he was making sure he was paying for, and a life that included active sports, travel and social activities with friends and family; he was usually the initiator.

[230] He is no longer able to be independent financially, he has no vehicle, and he has the added difficulty of not being able to sit for any length of time.  His passion for carpentry has been lifelong.  It is apparent he will not be able to earn his living and continue with this line of work.

[231] His family and others testified to his change in disposition and mood, his inability to join their normal activities, and his difficulties in coping with his pain and sleeplessness.  His enjoyment of life has been dramatically altered.  There will be an award for non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $125,000.

$40,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages Awarded for "Plateaued" Chronic Mid Back Injury

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court awarding damages for injuries and loss in an “unusually straightforward” personal injury case.
In this week’s case (Sharpe v. Tidey) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 BC Car Crash.  Fault was admitted by the Defendants lawyer leaving only the issue of quantum of damages to be decided at trial.
Mr. Justice Voith summarized the Plaintiff’s injuries as follows:
I find that since the accident Mr. Sharpe has had a constant and relatively significant level of pain in his mid-back area.  This pain increases after strenuous activity; yet nevertheless, as mentioned above, I accept that such activity assists in maintaining Mr. Sharpe’s baseline level of pain at a generally lower level…. I find that Mr. Sharpe’s present levels of back pain will likely remain static for at least the next 3-5 years.  It appears likely that over the longer term his symptoms will either actually abate or will be perceived by him to fade to some degree.  There is a real prospect that even over the long-term Mr. Sharpe will not fully recover from his injuries.
In assessing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $40,000 the court summarized and applied the law as follows:

[44]         In my view, there are a number of cases provided to me by the plaintiff which are of particular value.  These were Kahle v. Ritter, 2002 BCSC 199 22 M.V.R. (4th) 275, Hicks v. GMAC Leaseco. Ltd., 2001 BCSC 1091, and Isert v. Santos, 1999 BCCA 42, 65 B.C.L.R. (3d) 104.  While each of these decisions involves a plaintiff whose claim had attributes that were different from the instant case, they share certain central features.  In each case the plaintiff was generally able to work following their motor vehicle accident, without interruption or with limited interruption.  They involved persons who were particularly active, whose level of activity and enjoyment of such activities defined them, and who had been able to maintain some or all of the activities, albeit in modified or limited form.  Thus, they involved individuals who were not disabled, but who suffered from some impairment of functionality.  Their recovery had largely plateaued.  In my view, however, the impairment suffered by the plaintiffs in these cases was somewhat more severe than that suffered by Mr. Sharpe.

[45]         Mr. Sharpe is a young man in the prime of his life.  Work, sport, travel and his relationship with Ms. Drinkwater are the cornerstones of his life.  Sport and travel, in particular, are central to his social relationships, his sense of well-being, and his activities with Ms. Drinkwater.

[46]         Mr. Sharpe lives with a constant level of pain that is exacerbated when he engages in the very things that give him pleasure.  His recovery appears to have plateaued.  The prognosis for further recovery for at least a number of years is poor.  Furthermore, increased demands arising from his career and the family he hopes to have are a concern for his future.  Conversely, I recognize that if Mr. Sharpe is to undertake graduate studies and have a family in the future, he will have less time to engage in these various sports or activities.  Furthermore, as he gets older it is inevitable that to some extent he would, in any event, be less involved in the more extreme activities in which he has historically participated.

[47]         In my view, in all of the circumstances, the appropriate award for Mr. Sharpe’s non-pecuniary loss is $40,000.

More on BC Personal Injury Law and the Duty to Mitigate

A plaintiff who fails to take reasonable steps to minimize their losses and injuries after a car accident risks having their claim reduced accordingly for this ‘failure to mitigate’.
I’ve written about this before and reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court demonstrating this principle in action.
In today’s case (Latuszek v. Bel-Air Taxi 1992 Ltd.) the Plaintiff was involved in a serious intersection crash in the lower mainland.  The Defendant died in the collision and the Plaintiff suffered serious injuries.
These injuries included Depression, PTSD and Chronic Pain.  The Court valued the non-pecuniary damages (pain and suffering) for these injuries at $100,000 but then reduced the award by $40,000 due to the plaintiff’s failure to mitigate.
Madam Justice Stromberg-Stein summarized and applied the law as follows:

[84] Prior to setting non-pecuniary damages, I will address the duty to mitigate.

[85] There is a duty at law to take reasonable steps to minimize your loss, particularly where, as here, conservative treatments have been recommended.  Because of the nature of the plaintiff’s work, as a professional driver transporting fuel, he has limited his medication to Tylenol Extra Strength or Tylenol 8 Hour.  Dr. Jaworski recommended exercises in the pool and gym and brisk walking.  Mr. Latuszek says he swam once in a while, but he did not go to the gym or do brisk walking.  Dr. Jaworski suggested that brisk walking may be contraindicated now that he knows that Mr. Latuszek has a torn medial meniscus.  Mr. Latuszek does very little regular exercise of any kind, except once or twice a week.  He did not try yoga, massage therapy, relaxation therapy or the medications as recommended by his psychiatrist.  He has not taken holidays in the past two years to try the anti?depressant medication, yet he understands that such medication as well as exercise, may improve, if not cure, his symptoms.  The plaintiff has not prioritized his recovery.

[86] In light of the authorities presented by the parties, I conclude that general damages, having regard to the injuries suffered by Mr. Latuszek and the continued problems in that regard, including depression, PTSD, and chronic pain, should be set at $100,000.  There will be a reduction of $40,000 for failure to mitigate.  Therefore, I award $60,000 as general damages.

$70,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages Awarded for Back and Knee Injuries

(Please note the past wage loss award in the case discussed below was varied slightly on appeal.  The BC Court of Appeal Judgement can be found here)
Here is the latest in my effort to continue to grow this online database of ICBC and other BC Personal Injury Cases addressing damages for pain and suffering.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, (Bradshaw v. Matwick) awarding a Plaintiff $268,389 in total damages as a result of injuries and losses suffered in a 2006 motor vehicle collision.
The crash was a rear end collision which occurred in Port Coquitlam.  Liability (fault) was admitted focusing the trial on quantum of damages (value of the injuries).
The Plaintiff was a 41 year old metal fabricator.  In valuing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $70,000  Mr. Justice Groves summarized the Plaintiff’s injuries as follows:

[32] By the time of trial, the plaintiff’s injuries were close to three years old.  I accept the plaintiff’s evidence that he continues to suffer from some level of disability resulting from the accident—he continues to suffer pain and he continues to have a disability which prohibits heavy lifting, prolonged standing, neck flexion, and sustained and repetitive reaching.  I accept the plaintiff’s evidence that at present, he continues to put all of his physical energies towards his work.  When he is not at work, he is resting and preparing for the next day of work.  The effect of the injuries caused by the accident have created a significantly lower quality of life for the plaintiff.

[33] As for the knee injury, the plaintiff continued to walk with a significant limp in court.  This is consistent with what is reported by:  his spouse, Sandra Bennett; his co-workers Rune Akerbakk and Ron Philbrook; and by his less than sympathetic employer, Rob Charland.  The evidence is suggestive that the medial tear may be repairable by surgery.  Of note, it took considerable time, despite the plaintiff’s desire early on for a MRI, to have the MRI performed.  There is no evidence before me as to when or if surgery to repair this knee is possible or scheduled…

[43] The plaintiff suffered injuries to his back, neck, shoulder and left knee.  He was unable to return to work for over three months after the April 26, 2006 accident, and then only with difficulty and on reduced hours.  Close to three years after the accident, the plaintiff continues to experience considerable pain in his neck and shoulder, back and knee.  The evidence is clear that his job as a metal fabricator involves physically demanding tasks which exacerbate these injuries.  He has not been able to return to his pre-accident performance levels at work.

[44] Two of the expert witnesses, Dr. Spooner and Dr. Vaisler, testified that the plaintiff may have a permanent disability as a result of the accident injuries.  The injuries and the corresponding pain levels have significantly affected the plaintiff’s quality of life and his relationship with his family, as he has little energy or ability to remain active outside of work hours and is frequently irritable and short-tempered as a result of the pain.

[45] The plaintiff’s lifestyle has been dramatically affected by the injuries he suffered in the accident.  The plaintiff, prior to the accident, was an active outdoorsman who regularly went fly fishing with his daughter at remote locations around the Lower Mainland and in southern British Columbia.  Since the accident he has completely curtailed this activity and his relationship with his daughter has suffered.  Prior to the accident, he was an active father with his young son, enjoying activities with his son in the yard, and in the home.  Since the accident his relationship with his son has resorted to playing video games or other activities which involved sitting and lying down, with no physical exertion.

[46] Ms. Bennett describes the plaintiff, prior to the accident, as a “fabulous 100% dad”.  She described that her daughter viewed him as “her god”.  Now the daughter does not want to hang around with her father any longer.

[47] The evidence suggests yard work and snow removal is simply left undone, as the plaintiff can no longer do it.

[48] Ms. Bennett describes her relationship with the plaintiff as “hell”.  She says that when the plaintiff is at home, the family is “walking on eggshells”.  The plaintiff is in near constant pain.  He has to immediately lie down after work.  His interaction with the family is minimal.  He is completed affected by the pain.

[49] His relationship with his wife, Ms. Bennett, who testified, has become tenuous at best.  Prior to the accident they enjoyed an active sex life—they no longer do.  For close to 2½ years, because of his injuries, the plaintiff slept on the living room floor rather than with his wife.  Prior to the accident, the plaintiff vacuumed, did dishes, and cleaned up around the house and was completely responsible for outside yard activities.  The plaintiff and his wife purchased a home on a quarter acre lot.  The home was, to use the vernacular, a “fixer upper”.  The home was repaired by considerable efforts of the plaintiff and the quarter-acre yard was completely landscaped by the efforts of the plaintiff.  Since the accident he has been unable to participate in home repairs or landscaping work.

Can Future Wage Loss be Awarded in an ICBC Claim When There is no Past Wage Loss?

The answer is yes and reasons for judgement were released yesterday (Schnare v. Roberts) by the BC Supreme Court illustrating this fact.  In yesterday’s case the BC Supreme Court awarded the Plaintiff just over $240,000 in total damages as a result of a 2005 BC Motor Vehicle Collision.   
The Plaintiff was a school teacher and was on her way to school when her vehicle was rear-ended.  The crash was significant enough that the Plaintiff’s vehicle was pushed into the vehicle in front of hers.
The Plaintiff suffered various injuries and these and their effect on the Plaintiff’s life are summarized at paragraphs 56-57 as follows:

[56]            Based on the evidence of Ms. Schnare, Dr. Fagan, Mr. McLean and Dr. van Rijn, I conclude that, in the accident on March 14, 2005, Ms. Schnare suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck, upper, mid and lower back, including in and around her sacroiliac region.  As a result of the injuries, Ms. Schnare was left with a mobile sacroiliac joint.  I conclude further that the defendants’ negligence caused Ms. Schnare’s injuries.  While, as of the trial, Ms. Schnare had occasional neck pain attributable to the accident, I find that the most serious result of the injuries Ms. Schnare suffered in the accident has been the mobility in her sacroiliac joint, the pelvic misalignment and rotation, and the associated back pain.  The pelvic rotation was observed and identified (by Mr. McLean) at Ms. Schnare’s first physiotherapy assessment on March 31, 2005 (approximately two weeks after the accident).  Dr. van Rijn’s examination disclosed that Ms. Schnare had a mobile right sacroiliac region and he identified Ms. Schnare’s sacroiliac region as the probable pain generator and source of Ms. Schnare’s back pain.

[57]            I find that, as a result of her injuries, Ms. Schnare continues to suffer some neck pain and significant back pain, and that this pain – particularly her back pain – limits and interferes with most normal and routine activities of her daily life.  Based on the evidence, particularly from Mr. McLean, Ms. Schnare’s condition has improved since the accident, as a result of physiotherapy and Ms. Schnare’s own efforts.  However, I accept the opinion of Dr. van Rijn and conclude that Ms. Schnare’s accident-related symptoms caused by her injuries have resulted in some permanent disability.

In justifying an award for non-pecuniary damages (pain and suffering) for $85,000 the Court highlighted the following facts:

Ms. Schnare’s injuries have had a very significant effect on the quality of Ms. Schnare’s life.  She has back pain regularly, and from time to time flare-ups of severe pain; she fatigues easily; she is unable to enjoy activities such as hiking or car trips with her family; she is unable to participate in her children’s activities (including homework and sports) in the manner and to the degree she would like; household chores are more difficult; she feels like a spectator on family activities, rather than involved and engaged; her intimate relationship with her husband has changed; and her strong desire to pursue a career as a kindergarten teacher has been frustrated.

[63]            Taking into account in particular Ms. Schnare’s evidence, the evidence of Mr. Schnare, Ms. Schultz and Ms. Brebuck concerning Ms. Schnare’s circumstances before and after the accident, and the opinions stated by Dr. van Rijn, I conclude that an award of $85,000 is appropriate in the circumstances.

From there the court went on to discuss the law of diminished earning capacity (future wage loss).  Despite only having a minimal past wage loss the Court awarded the Plaintiff $125,000 for diminished earning capacity.  In doing so the Court summarized and applied the law as follows:

 

[64]            The principles governing a claim for loss of earning capacity are set out in Rosvold v. Dunlop, 2001 BCCA 1, 84 B.C.L.R. (3d) 158.  There, the court confirmed that, “Where a plaintiff’s permanent injury limits him in his capacity to perform certain activities and consequently impairs his income earning capacity, he is entitled to compensation.  What is being compensated is not lost projected future earnings but the loss or impairment of earning capacity as a capital asset.”  The standard of proof to be applied when evaluating hypothetical, future events that may affect an award is simple probability, not the balance of probabilities.  Huddart J.A. continued:

10.     The trial judge’s task is to assess the loss on a judgmental basis, taking into consideration all the relevant factors arising from the evidence:  Mazzuca v. Alexakis, [1994] B.C.J. No. 2128 (S.C.) at para. 121, aff’d [1997] B.C.J. No. 2178 (C.A.). Guidance as to what factors may be relevant can be found in Parypa v. Wickware, supra, at para. 31;Kwei v. Boisclair (1991), 60 B.C.L.R. (2d) 393 (C.A.); and Brown v. Golaiy (1985), 26 B.C.L.R. (3d) 353 (S.C.) per Finch J. They include:

1.    whether the plaintiff has been rendered less capable overall from earning income from all types of employment;

2.    whether the plaintiff is less marketable or attractive as an employee to potential employers;

3.    whether the plaintiff has lost the ability to take advantage of all job opportunities which might otherwise have been open to him, had he not been injured; and

4.    whether the plaintiff is less valuable to himself as a person capable of earning income in a competitive labour market.

11.     The task of the court is to assess damages, not to calculate them according to some mathematical formula:  Mulholland (Guardian ad litem of) v. Riley Estate (1995), 12 B.C.L.R. (3d) 248 (C.A.). Once impairment of a plaintiff’s earning capacity as a capital asset has been established, that impairment must be valued.  . . . The overall fairness and reasonableness of the award must be considered taking into account all the evidence.

[65]            Ms. Schnare seeks damages in the sum of $345,600 for lost earning capacity.  This sum is based on a full-time salary of $64,000 per year; on the assumption that, because of her injuries, Ms. Schnare is permanently unable to work more than 4 days per week; and on the further assumption that, but for her injuries, she would begin teaching full time in about 2010 and continue until age 65, a period of 27 years (20% of $64,000 = $12,800 multiplied by 27 years = $345,600).

[66]            When Ms. Schnare worked a full-time week in the fall of 2008, she determined that she could not keep it up, and that she needed the one day a week to recuperate.  Other than that one week, Ms. Schnare last taught full time during the school year September 2000 to June 2001.  At that time, the Schnares’ daughter was about two, and Ms. Schnare was pregnant with their son.  As noted above, the Schnares has discussed Ms. Schnare returning to work full time when their daughter entered grade 7.  Of course, that Ms. Schnare would in fact have returned to work full time once her daughter entered grade 7, but for the accident, is not a certainty.

[67]            Dr. van Rijn addressed the topic of Ms. Schnare’s potential “occupational restrictions” in his June 5, 2008 report.  He noted Ms. Schnare’s plans to move to grade 1, rather than teaching kindergarten, and observed that “some of the job requirements (including sitting on the ground) may not be as necessary, which will hopefully allow her to manage more easily.”  He continued (italics added):

She has permanent restrictions with respect to jobs requiring increasing physical effort and would be competitively unemployable in such work when compared to an able-bodied woman with similar interests and skill sets.  This represents a permanent loss in her work capability and has caused her to suffer a work handicap as a result of her injuries.  She is potentially less desirable an employee to perspective employers as a result of her accident related symptoms.

[68]            However, Dr. van Rijn does not say anywhere in his report that Ms. Schnare would be unable, because of her injuries, to work full-time as a teacher.  I compare what Dr. van Rijn says with the evidence referred to in Fox v. Danis, at para. 97, where the court had the benefit of opinion evidence to the effect that the plaintiff had lost the capacity to work full-time.  While Ms. Schnare may have restrictions, and therefore be less employable or “competitively unemployable,” with respect to “jobs requiring increasing physical effort,” Dr. van Rijn does not identify teaching grade 1, or indeed teaching any particular school grade, as a job of this type.  In addition, there is no evidence that Ms. Schnare has ever considered any type of work other than teaching.

[69]            I consider that the approach taken by Ms. Schnare with respect to damages for loss of earning capacity is excessively mathematical.  In my view, it seeks to have Ms. Schnare compensated as if it were certain that she would never work full-time again, and her approach produces a result that, overall, is neither fair nor reasonable, taking into account all of the evidence.  On the other hand, based on the evidence, I do not accept the defendants’ submission that Ms. Schnare should receive no award for loss of capacity to earn income.

[70]            In my view, based in particular on Ms. Schnare’s evidence and on the opinions stated by Dr. van Rijn in his June 5, 2008 report, Ms. Schnare has suffered some impairment of her earning capacity as a result of her injuries.  She has been rendered less capable overall from earning income from all types of employment available to an individual qualified as a teacher, and she has lost the ability to take advantage of all job opportunities that might otherwise have been open to her had she not been injured.  Specifically, Ms. Schnare has lost the ability to take advantage of the opportunity to work full-time as a kindergarten teacher, taking into account the physical demands of that job.  On the other hand, I do not consider that the evidence supports the conclusion that, as a result of her injuries, Ms. Schnare has lost the ability generally to take advantage of opportunities to work full-time as a teacher, should she choose to do so in the future.  In that light, the difference between Ms. Schnare’s likely future income had the accident not occurred and her income now that the accident has occurred may well be small.

[71]            Accordingly, Ms. Schnare is entitled to damages, but the amount should be more modest than what her counsel has submitted.  I conclude that the damages for Ms. Schnare’s loss of earning capacity should be assessed at $125,000.

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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