Tag: pain and suffering

More on ICBC Injury Claims and Low Velocity Impacts

Reasons for judgement were released today awarding a Plaintiff $21,500 for pain and suffering plus ‘special damages’ (accident related out of pocket expenses) as a result of a 2005 motor vehicle collision.
While the judgement does not mention ICBC directly (BC personal injury tort judgements rarely mention who the insurer for the defendant is) this case appears to me to be one which was defended on the basis of ICBC’s Low Velocity Impact (LVI) program.  The reason why I reach this conclusion is because the defence lawyer argued that “this was such a minor motor vehicle accident that no damages should be awarded”.  This is a standard argument behind ICBC’s LVI program.
The accident did not occur at a significant rate of speed and resulted in little vehicle damage.  The Plaintiff’s vehicle cost approximately $1,500 to repair.
The Plaintiff’s injuries are discussed at paragraphs 5-16 of the reasons for judgement which I reproduce below:

[6]                She described her symptoms as significant pain in her wrist, pain in her neck, shoulders, lower back, and a small amount of pain in her jaw. 

[7]                The doctor told her to “take it easy”.  She went home and put an ice pack on her wrist and shoulders. 

[8]                The pain in her wrist resolved within a month of the accident.  The pain in her neck lasted for approximately a year and a half.  Massage therapy helped with the pain in her neck; she developed better range of motion.

[9]                She also began to experience headaches which resolved within a year and a half of the accident.

[10]            The muscles in her jaw tightened and she experienced pain.  She described the jaw pain starting after the accident as minor, though it continued to get worse.  She still has some symptoms of jaw pain but it has improved with the use of a night guard.

[11]            Three weeks after the accident she developed chest pains.  She first noted the chest pains when she was jogging.  She did not have this pain prior to the accident.  When she developed the pain she stopped jogging.  She has gradually built up her jogging and she can now jog for 6 km before the chest pain sets in.

[12]            Her back pain first developed approximately an hour after she left work and it got worse the next day, but it resolved itself within a month of the accident.

[13]            She did not play tennis for almost a year and a half because the right side of her body was sore.

[14]            She attended the drop-in clinic on three occasions and saw her family doctor, Dr. Sewell, on three occasions.  She had difficulty making appointments with Dr. Sewell because he did not work on Saturdays.  Initially, however, she did not think her symptoms would last very long and therefore did not see him sooner.

[15]            She has had massage therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment, attended her dentist for a night guard, and attended Pilates, and has incurred special damages in the amount of $3,982.

[16]            The massage therapy was commenced shortly after the accident and a friend of hers did some initial massage therapy on her until she saw Ms. Chung who provided massage treatments for her from approximately December 2005 to April 2007, a total of 22 treatments.  She had approximately 10 physiotherapy treatments between June and November 2006.  She also had chiropractic treatments on 6 occasions in February and March 2006.

The court, in awarding damages, made the following findings:
[26]            Here, however, I am satisfied that the plaintiff is a credible witness.  She did not exaggerate any of her claims and the massage therapy provided by her friend Ms. Chung was done on a professional basis and she paid somewhat less than the going rate.  Nevertheless, the massage therapy was beneficial and she should be reimbursed for those disbursements….
[28]            I have no difficulty accepting those principles, but as stated above I found the plaintiff to be a credible witness.  There is a lack of objective evidence and that has made me exceedingly careful in weighing the evidence, but at the end of the day I am satisfied that the plaintiff has suffered the injuries over the periods of time referred to in this judgment.  I am of the view that this is a mild to moderate soft-tissue type injury and I am satisfied that the range of damages is between $20,000 to $25,000, as set out in Reyes v. Pascual, 2008 BCSC 1324, Pardanyi v. Wilson, 2004 BCSC 1804, and Walker v. Webb, 2001 BCSC 216.  I am satisfied that she is entitled to non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $21,500 and special damages in the amount of $3,982.  The plaintiff is also entitled to her costs.

$30,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages awarded in Minimal Damage Collision

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court awarding a Plaintiff just over $40,000 in total damages as a result of a 2003 motor vehicle collision.
The Plaintiff was stopped at a stop sign in Surrey, BC when her vehicle was rear-ended by the Defendant.  The issue of fault was not disputed.  What was disputed was whether the Plaintiff was injured in this crash and if so what the amount of her damages ought to be.
This case seems to be one that fit ICBC’s Low Velocity Impact (LVI) criteria.  The vehicles involved had very little damage.  Evidence was called from an insurance estimator who testified that there was nothing more than cosmetic damage to the vehicle and the repair estimate was slightly more than $500.  It is a frequent strategy of ICBC defence lawyers to focus on the amount of vehicle damage in LVI cases and this strategy appears to have been employed in this trial.
Despite the LVI-nature of this crash the Plaintiff satisfied the court she sustained injuries.  The Court was impressed with the Plaintiff and made the following finding:
[43]            I find that Ms. Orrell is an honest witness and accept her evidence of the event and the injuries that she sustained.  I am satisfied that she was injured in the collision, and that, as a consequence, she experienced pain and discomfort and disruption to her usual activities.  Those have not fully resolved at the time of trial.
Mr. Justice Williams summarized the injuries as follows in concluding that $30,000 was fair for the Plaintiff’s pain and suffering (non-pecuniary damages) 
[51]             The accident and the resultant injuries caused a reasonably significant measure of pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life for Ms. Orrell following the event.  Considering both her evidence and the first report of Dr. Miki, that effect was most pronounced for a period of approximately six months, but continued, albeit in a less debilitating way, up to the point of trial.  It has impacted on her participation in many endeavours, including being physically active in such pastimes as running, going to the gym, gardening, ordinary household tasks and, importantly, being as active with her son as she otherwise would have been. As I have indicated earlier, there are however other factors that must be taken into account, including her pre-accident status and her pregnancy in 2006.  Both of those contributed to her discomfort too.
Cases like this one show time and time again that the extent of vehicle damage does not determine what a person’s tortious injuries are worth in British Columbia, rather medical evidence is key in valuing ICBC injury tort claims.

Mechanics Found Liable for Single Vehicle Collision for Negligent Brake Repair

Reasons for judgement were released today compensating a Plaintiff as a result of injuries and loss sustained in a 2006 single vehicle collision that occurred in Vancouver, BC.
The Plaintiff, an 80 year old woman, was driving her Nissan back home from the hair salon.  She drove down hill, applied her brakes but they did not respond.  She lost control of her vehicle and smashed into a lamp standard prior to coming to a stop.  The collision was significant and caused numerous injuries.
The Plaintiff sued Kal Tire Ltd. who serviced her vehicle in the years prior to the crash.  ICBC also sued Kal Tire Ltd. for repayment of funds they paid to the Plaintiff as a result of this crash.
The court found that Kal Tire was responsible for this collision and thus ordered that damages be paid to the Plaintiff and to ICBC.  The key finding was made at paragraphs 51- 53 which I reproduce below:

[51]            The evidence demonstrated on the balance of probabilities that Kal’s negligence in servicing the Nissan’s brake system caused the brakes to fail.  Mr. Brown’s physical observations of undisturbed front bleed screws is consistent with a failure to properly perform the brake fluid flush.  This would have left existing contaminated brake fluid in the system.

[52]            Ms. D’Oliveira did not notice a change in the brake system functioning after the servicing.  The brakes may have been performing poorly before the servicing, which led to the replacement of the rear wheel cylinders.  If the brake fluid flush was done incorrectly, brake function would not improve despite the servicing.  Alternatively, Ms. D’Oliveira may not have been particularly sensitive to the sponginess of the brakes.  While it appeared sudden to Ms. D’Oliveira, the brake system was likely performing poorly even prior to servicing, and there simply continued to be a slow deterioration leading to complete failure. 

[53]            As a result, Kal is liable for Ms. D’Oliveira’s injuries arising from the accident, and for the sum agreed between the parties in the ICBC Action.

The Plaintiff suffered various injuries which are summarized at paragraphs 54-56 of the judgement which I reproduce below.   The court assessed the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $40,000.  

[54]            Ms. D’Oliveira suffered significant orthopaedic injuries of ten broken ribs, a crushed right heel, and a fracture to the C-7 vertebra.  She had surgery on her heel to insert pins, had a cast on her leg for seven weeks, and was placed in a neck collar.  She spent 52 days in a hospital setting.  She was discharged using a wheelchair, but shortly afterwards was able to walk with a walker and then a cane.  During this time she was assisted in household activities by her son and sister. 

[55]            Ms. D’Oliveira was able to walk unaided about nine months after the accident.  By that time she was mostly pain-free, and able to resume most of her activities.

[56]            Ms. D’Oliveira’s on-going problems are that she is unsteady on her feet.  She has given up her regular stay-fit classes.  She is more cautious in turning her head.  She has to wear wide shoes to accommodate swelling. 

$20,000 Pain and Suffering for Substantially Recovered Mild/Moderate Soft Tissue Injury

Reasons for judgement were released today awarding a Plaintiff damages as a result of injuries sustained in a 2005 rear end crash which occurred in Vancouver, BC.
The Plaintiff was received various soft tissue injuries which largely recovered.  In awarding $20,000 for the Plaintiff’s pain and suffering the court made the following key findings of fact:

[23]            The plaintiff, who is now 32 years old, suffered a mild to moderate soft tissue injury in the motor vehicle accident.  He was doing well within three months and was substantially recovered after six.  He has some residual symptoms but they do not restrict the nature of his activities.  However, the degree to which he can participate in them is different now.

[24]            The more importance physical activity has in one’s life, the more one feels the loss of that capability.  (the Plaintiff’s) life largely revolved around sports that required peak physical fitness, and the training required to maintain that level of fitness.  Those aspects of his life were seriously disrupted for three to four months, with gradual improvement over the next two or three.  His relationships with his friends suffered accordingly over that period.  It was clear from his evidence and the evidence of Ms. Fok, his training pal, Mr. Candano-Dalde, and (the Plaintiff’s) mother, that (the Plaintiff) felt with some justification that there was nothing he could not do athletically prior to the accident.  While he has recovered and is now very active again, it appears that he has lost the edge he once had.

[25]            The award for non-pecuniary damages should adequately compensate (the Plaintiff) for all of these factors, past and future.  I set those damages at $20,000.

This case is one of the shorter trial judgements I’ve read from the BC Supreme Court dealing with quantum of damages in quite some time.  This case is worth reading for anyone advancing an ICBC tort claim dealing with mild/moderate soft tissue injuries to see the types of factors considered when awarding money for pain and suffering.

$35,000 Pain and Suffering for 'Plateaued' Soft Tissue Injuries

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court awarding a Plaintiff just over $45,000 in total damages as a result of a 2004 BC car crash.
The crash was significant.   The Plainitiff was travelling at 60 kilometers per hour when his vehicle was struck head on by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff’s vehicle was destroyed as a result of the impact.
The court found that the Plaintiff suffered various soft tissue injuries as a result of this crash and that these injuries plateaued by the end of 2006 to about 90% of the Plaintiff’s pre accident level.   The court’s key findings are made at paragraphs 28-31 which I set out below:

[28]            On the whole, I found the plaintiff to be a good, credible witness. I am satisfied that he fully intended to develop a high-quality educational centre for those wishing to learn English as a second language and that he was attempting to do so when he was injured in the motor vehicle accident of March 27, 2004.

[29]            I find as well, however, that the plaintiff’s records relating to his learning centre were poor, and that his business model was unlikely to lead to significantly greater income than it generated in its best year, 2005. Clearly the plaintiff will make far more money in real estate than he could ever have made with his learning centre, and he has recognized this by restricting his claim related to the learning centre to the period from March 2004 until June 2006.

[30]            I find that the plaintiff was involved in a significant collision while travelling at approximately 60 km/h, when his vehicle rapidly decelerated after being struck head on by the defendants’ vehicle which was travelling in the opposite direction. The plaintiff’s vehicle was destroyed. As a result of the collision, I find that the plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck, shoulders and clavicle, which interfered with his usual exercise routine, his normal daily activities, and his ability to perform the duties required of him at his learning centre.

[31]            I find that before these injuries resolved, the plaintiff’s circumstances were further interrupted by a nerve injury affecting his arm, but that that injury was unrelated to his motor vehicle accident. I find that the injuries attributable to the motor vehicle accident continued to adversely affect (the Plaintiff) in his daily activities in an ever-decreasing manner until the end of 2006, when they plateaued at approximately 90% of his pre-accident condition. I find that the injuries related to the motor vehicle accident are now, as Dr. Hirsch described, “fairly minor” and that they only interfere in (the Plaintiff’s) usual activities on a sporadic basis, perhaps every month or so.

The following damages were awarded:

a)         non-pecuniary damages of $35,000.00;

b)         past income loss of $8,250.00;

c)         special damages of $2,786.15; and

d)         court order interest on the past income loss and special damages awards.

 

Soft Tissue Injury Nets $35,000 for Pain and Suffering in Rule 68 Claim

I’m on the road working on ICBC claims in Kelowna today so today’s BC personal injury update will be a little lighter on detail than usual.
Yesterday the BC Supreme Court released reasons for judgement awarding just over $82,000 in damages as a result of injuries and loss sustained in a 2005 BC Car Accident in Victoria, BC.
The Plaintiff was a 24 year old graphic designer at the time of the accident.
The court made the following finding with respect to injury:

[83]            From the foregoing evidence and my findings, I find that the plaintiff has established that he suffered a soft tissue injury to his cervical and lumbar spine in the accident.  Dr. Chan’s report does not attempt to classify the severity of the injury, but he did note the injury to be resolving at about two months post-accident, with a conservative treatment regime.  The plaintiff missed a week of work immediately after the accident, then returned to work half days for three to four months, and then went back to full-time hours of seven to eight hours a day.  He considers the last significant improvement in his condition to be about six months post-accident.

[84]            To date, just over three years as of the date of trial,  the plaintiff remains unable to work the additional hours per day to bring him to his pre-accident level of 50 to 60 hours per week, and continues to experience “flare ups” with pain in his lower back when engaging prolonged periods of standing or sitting.  Certain physical activities and sports that he previously enjoyed, he now engages in at a reduced level or has declined to continue with, for example snowboarding and mowing his parents’ lawn.  In my view, the evidence establishes a minimal ongoing impairment arising from the soft tissue injuries he sustained in the accident. 

Damages were awarded as follows:

(a)        Non-pecuniary damages:                                           $35,000.00

(b)        Damages for lost income:                                          $15,647.18

(c)        Damages for loss of future earning capacity:            $30,000.00

(d)        Special damages:                                                       $  1,845.36

Total:                                                                                       $82,492.54

This is one of the few ICBC injury claims that I’m aware of that proceeded through trial under the relatively new Rule 68.  Rule 68 should be carefully reviewed for anyone prosecuting an ICBC injury claim that may be worth less than $100,000 as this rule presents some benefits and restrictions in the way in which an ICBC claim can be advanced.

$25,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Neck, Shoulder and Back Soft Tissue Injuries

Following a 2 day trial using the Fast Track Rule  (Rule 66), reasons for judgement were released today compensating a Plaintiff as a result of a 2005 BC car accident.
The Plaintiff was injured as a passenger.  The offending motorist admitted fault and the trial focused on damages (lawful compensation) only.
The Plaintiff had a range of complaints following the accident including pain in her neck, right shoulder and low back, and a significant increase in the frequency of her pre-existing migraine headaches.
In assessing a fair award for pain and suffering the court made the following finding:

[24] I accept the plaintiff’s evidence that she was injured in the August 9, 2005 motor vehicle accident.  In this regard, I note that while the physicians who examined the plaintiff also accepted the plaintiff’s assertions, the fact that they did so does not assist the court in making that finding.  Their observations thereafter are of considerable assistance in assessing the possible course of the plaintiff’s recovery, however.  It does appear, taking account of what is before me, that the plaintiff recovered functionally very quickly although she may suffer some minor aches and pains that will occasionally interfere with her activities.

[25] The plaintiff has suffered some moderate interference with her life due to pain and suffering.  The cases advanced as comparables by the parties are of some assistance in locating this case on an appropriate scale.  I assess her damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life at $25,000.

The Plaintiff also led evidence that she was able to take advantage of fewer overtime opportunities as a result of her injuries.  For this loss the court awarded $20,000.
The court found that the injuries should continue to improve but may linger for a while longer.  In addressing loss of earning capacity the court awarded $15,000 making the following findings:
She is capable of doing her work and of working considerable overtime.  On the basis of the medical evidence there is good reason to expect that she will fully recover in the next few years, with a modest chance of some limited impairment further into the future.  I think some allowance must be made for the possibility that the plaintiff may occasionally suffer losses into the future that are related to the injuries she has suffered.  I think the evidence suggests that these losses will be incurred, for the most part, in the next few years.  I fix the sum of $15,000 for loss of future earning capacity.

$30,000 Pain and Suffering for 2 year 'mild to moderate' Soft Tissue Neck Injury

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court awarding a Plaintiff compensation as a result of a 2002 motor vehicle collision.
The collision happened in Victoria.  It was a rear end crash and the Defendant admitted fault.  This appears to be a crash that fit into ICBC’s Low Velocity Impact (LVI) criteria as the vehicles suffered minimal damage.
The Plaintiff claimed significant injury which was on-going more than 5 years post collision which would impact her future earning capacity.  The defence position was that that crash caused a mild soft tissue injury which resolved by October 2003.
The court found that the crashed caused a 2 year soft tissue injury and made the following findings:
[26] I have some difficult in assessing (the Plaintiff’s) evidence.  She describes the resulting dent in her car as huge, yet it does not look like that in the pictures and the cost to repair was estimated at only $53.  She said she was in incredible pain immediately after the accident, yet Ms. Lobb spoke to her and was under the impression everyone was fine.  No ambulance was called, nor did she seek immediate medical attention which I would expect would happen if the pain was immediately “incredible” and “excruciating”.  On the other hand, I have no doubt that (the Plaintiff) suffered pain caused by the accident which, as documented by the medical reports, gradually got worse over the ensuing weeks.  I also have no doubt that (the Plaintiff) continues to have pain to this day – it seems to me on looking at her that it is written in her face.  As Dr. Vincent testified, people do not go for injection therapy unless they have pain.  Furthermore, there is evidence from her mother, her friend and her employers that she is not the high energy person she once was.  The difficulty is to assess the degree to which the collision is the cause of her pain and the true effect of that upon her life.  There is a tendency to attribute a multitude of difficulties following a car accident to that one cause when often there are many…….

[31] (the Plaintiff) bears the onus of proving that the condition for which she seeks compensation was on the balance of probabilities caused by the December 30th, 2002 collision. I  find on the evidence that she did suffer a mild to moderate soft tissue injury to her neck and back as initially diagnosed in her early months of treatment by Dr. Down which was caused by the collision.  I am not persuaded, however, on the balance of probabilities, that her condition caused by the accident injuries extended beyond the two year period initially foreseen by Dr. Down.  She was clearly on a course of recovery in that two year period.  What happened thereafter has not been proven to have been caused by the December 30th, 2002 collision.

[32] I assess (the Plaintiff’s) general damages for a mild to moderate soft tissue injury to her neck and back extending over a period of two years at $30,000.

$30,000 Pain and Suffering awarded for "mild to moderate soft tissue injuries"

Blogging from Kelowna again (and a lot less rainy here than Victoria when I left this am)…
Reasons for judgement were released today awarding a Plaintiff just over $43,000 in damages as a result of a 2005 BC motor vehicle accident.
For the purpose of researching non-pecuniary damages, the key findings of fact were made starting at paragraph 132 of the judgement which I reproduce below. Of particular interest is the judge’s 25% reduction of non-pecuniary damages for the Plaintiff’s ‘failure to mitigate’ set out at paragraph 134:

[132] I conclude that the plaintiff suffered a mild to moderate soft tissue injury the symptoms of which were exacerbated by his very heavy work duties, his financial worries, and the poor health of his wife and daughter. The combination resulted in a lack of motivation to adequately do the exercises and instead, a reliance on medications, which his wife supplied. On the evidence before me, I find that the injuries to his neck and upper back had more or less resolved within ten to twelve months after the accident with occasional flare-ups. It is probable that even with appropriate exercising, these symptoms would have persisted that long because he was obliged to return to work too early.

[133] There has been a substantial impact on his enjoyment of life and I am satisfied that he is not able to participate in family activities as much as he could before, including doing the Grouse Grind and fishing with his daughter. His ability to perform previously done housework has also been affected, although I am not satisfied on the evidence of the extent of gardening/lawn mowing help required. The daughter’s boyfriend could have been called as a witness and the failure to do so or explain his absence rightly allows the defence to suggest that I should draw an adverse inference, and I do so. Nevertheless, I accept that the plaintiff is not as able to bend or stoop to paint or do repairs to the house and his car. Further, in part because of his pain, his marital relations with his wife have been affected.

[134] Taking all that into consideration I find that the appropriate compensation for his non-pecuniary loss is $40,000, but this amount must be reduced because of what I find has been a significant failure on his part to mitigate his injuries. He has failed to abide by the doctors’ and physiotherapist’s advice to engage in an appropriate exercise program. Although he said that he could not afford the program, he admitted that he had not even taken any steps to enquire as to the cost. Further, the plaintiff has not diligently performed the exercises that can be done at home and stops at the first sign of pain. He relied and relies too heavily on painkillers when, in the opinion of the medical experts, he should be properly exercising. The defendants are not obliged to compensate a plaintiff who fails to take proper steps to reduce the extent of the loss. Accordingly, I would reduce the non-pecuniary damages as well as some other heads of damages by 25% to reflect this failure and set them at $30,000.

ICBC, Aggravation of Prior Injuries and "Failure to Mitigate"

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court awarding damages to a Plaintiff as a result of a 2003 rear-end accident.
In this case the court found that the Plaintiff ‘had significant problems with her neck and back prior to the 2003 collision…..that the collision markedly aggravated her pre-existing condition. Her level of functioning has gradually improved between the time of the collision and the time of the trial….(although) she continues to suffer greater pain and disability than she did before the collision.
In valuing the Plaintiff’s accident related pain and suffering at $50,000, the court made the following findings:
It is clear that Ms. Antoniali was suffering from a previous injury to her back and neck at the time of the November 2003 collision. I am satisfied that the November collision caused substantial new or aggravated injury to Ms. Antoniali’s lower and mid back. She has suffered substantial disability, pain and suffering for the approximately four and one-half years since the collision. She has not been able to engage in most of the recreational pursuits that she engaged in before the collision. Her enjoyment of her new role as a mother has been negatively impacted. However, not all of the pain and disability she suffered during this period was attributable to the November collision. In the absence of the new injury she suffered in that collision she would have been troubled by the likely continuation of her pre-collision back and neck difficulties. I am satisfied that an award of $50,000 for non-pecuniary general damages for her collision related injuries, both past and future, is appropriate to reflect her loss. I assign those damages approximately equally to the pre-trial and post-trial periods.
In addition to interesting comments made about the aggravation of pre-existing injuries, the court made some key findings regarding ‘failure to mitigate’.
When a person is injured in a BC car crash and makes and ICBC tort claim, that person has a duty to take reasonable steps to minimize their losses. This is called the ‘duty to mitigate’. In this case the court found that the Plaintiff did fail to mitigate her losses and reduced some of her damages by up to 50% as a result of this failure. The key finding fueling this decision was that the Plaintiff’s symptoms would have been lessened had she followed the recommended program of stretching and exercises recommended by her physician.
In discussing the law of failure to mitigate Mr. Justice Preston referenced some well known passages canvassing this area of the law – for your convenience I will reproduce these below:
From Graham v. Rogers

Mitigation goes to limit recovery based on an unreasonable failure of the injured party to take reasonable steps to limit his or her loss. A plaintiff in a personal injury action has a positive duty to mitigate but if a defendant’s position is that a plaintiff could reasonably have avoided some part of the loss, the defendant bears the onus of proof on that issue.

From Humphrey v. Rancier Estate

Another issue in assessment of damages, both non-pecuniary and pecuniary, is the plaintiff’s alleged failure to mitigate. The plaintiff has followed all her medical advice with the exception of reducing her weight. She was grossly obese before the accident, weighing about 260 pounds; she is not quite five feet tall. She now weighs over 200 pounds and continues to be grossly obese. There is no doubt on the medical evidence and the evidence of the therapists that her disability and pain would be less if she lost a considerable amount of weight.

The question is whether the plaintiff has taken reasonable steps to minimize her loss. The court must assess whether this test has been met by looking at all the circumstances of the case. Here we have an obese lady before the accident – someone who had been obese all her adult life. Her brother and sister are both obese. She appears, as her counsel put it, to be a weak woman in the sense that she has not had very good success at controlling her smoking or her eating on a consistent basis in the past despite medical advice and despite her clear efforts. She has tried to lose weight and has succeeded to an extent, at least temporarily. She is still trying, she says.

Of equal importance to the principle that the plaintiff must act reasonably in minimizing her loss and her damages, is another principle, namely that the defendant takes his victim as he finds him or her. In the circumstances in this case, given the plaintiff’s pre-accident history of obesity, given her particular personality, given her honest efforts from time to time to lose weight and kept it off, I am not satisfied that it can be said that the plaintiff has acted unreasonably and has failed to mitigate her damages, with the result that her damages should be lessened because she has not lost weight.

From Sagave v. Townsend

A defendant who injures a plaintiff is not entitled to expect perfection from the injured person in pursuing rehabilitation. The plaintiff must be reasonable and sincere in her efforts to promote recovery. The plaintiff was less than perfect, and undoubtedly paid a price in pain and discomfort on occasion. I accept however the plaintiff met a reasonable standard of care concerning exercise with regard to her own rehabilitation.

The defendant has not met the onus of proof required for the plaintiff to be found to have contributed to her own damages. In the assessment of her non-pecuniary damages however I have taken account of the need for the plaintiff to follow an almost daily regime in the future and assumed she will benefit accordingly.

This case serves as a striking example that an unreasonable failure to follow medical advice can have a severe impact on an ICBC claim. Here the Plaintiff’s awards for post trial pain and suffering, post trial loss of earning capacity and post trial cost of medical care were reduced by 50%!

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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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