Tag: patella injury

Slip and Fall Claim Succeeds After Plaintiff Injured on Wet Boardwalk

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing fault and damages for a fall a Plaintiff sustained while walking on a wet boardwalk.

In today’s case (Owens v. Steveston Waterfront Properties Inc.) the Plaintiff fell and broke her right kneecap in an incident described as follows:

the plaintiff was walking on a part of a boardwalk in Steveson, of which the defendant is the occupier, when she slipped and fell (the “Incident”).  She was walking on the boardwalk after having a meal (a soup and one beer) at the Restaurant.  The plaintiff was 61 years old at the time of the Incident.  She had followed her husband, Mr. Owens, who was also in his sixties, down a ramp with a small incline that was just outside the Restaurant to the boardwalk.  Although the wooden planks of the boardwalk looked dry, she slipped, landing on her knee.  She testified that, had there been a sign warning of a slipping hazard, she would not have tried to walk down the ramp to the boardwalk.

The Court found she fell due to the slipperiness of the boardwalk and that it did not appear wet.  The court noted the Defendant could have placed a warning sign or, at relatively low cost, installed strips to increase the friction for patrons walking on the boardwalk.  In finding the Defendant liable Madam Justice Maisonville provided the following reasons:

[110]     I find that the risk respecting the boardwalk was unreasonable. The defendant has a positive duty to take reasonable care to make the boardwalk safe to be walked on. Although evidence of local practice is not determinative, having considered that occupiers for the neighbouring boardwalks had mounted signs warning of the potential slipping hazard, I am persuaded that the facts that the boardwalk could be slippery when wet and that this wetness would not always be visually noticeable to visitors, amounts to a recognizable risk that required some positive action on the part of the defendant.

[111]     I do not accept the defendant’s characterization that wetness was an “inherent risk” of such a nature that the plaintiff should have been aware of it being slippery, given she had considered this potential and indeed looked for evidence of that risk. Given no visual clues arise from the wood itself I find that a sign should have been erected at the top of the ramp to warn that it could be slippery given the variable weather conditions at the site.

[112]     There was ease in avoiding the risk by either putting a frictional surface such as a metal grate on the boardwalk to reduce the slipperiness that wetness would cause, or even erecting a sign, warning visitors of the invisible danger. The costs of reducing the risk of slipperiness would have been minimal. As such, in all the circumstances, I find that the defendant breached its duty under the OLA to the plaintiff in failing to take any steps to reduce or eliminate the risk posed by the boardwalk becoming slippery when wet…

[121]     The breach of duty by the defendant, accordingly, is its failure to put up a caution sign. But for there being a sign visible to someone approaching the boardwalk, the Incident would not have occurred. Therefore, I find the plaintiff has established on a balance of probabilities that the defendant is liable for any damages flowing from the Incident.

$200,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment For Multiple, Disabling Orthopaedic Injuries

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for multiple, complex, orthopaedic injuries caused by a motor vehicle collision.
In last week’s case (Tompkins v. Bruce) the Plaintiff was injured in a serious 2006 collision which was caused when the Defendant, who had been drinking and was driving while over the legal limit, crossed the centre line and collided with the Plaintiff’s vehicle.  The Defendant was found fully at fault for the crash.
The Plaintiff suffered multiple injuries including rib fractures with a collapsed lung, a left hip fracture, a fractured femur and a fractured patella.  These injuries required surgical intervention.  The Plaintiff had a total hip replacement and likely needed a total knee replacement in the future.

The Plaintiff was a plumber and gas fitter and was rendered totally, permanently disabled from his own occupation.  He was left with a minimal residual earning capacity.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $200,000 Mr. Justice Curtis provided the following reasons:

[47] Wayne Tompkins was 50 years old, living in Pemberton and happily employed as a tradesman when the June 3, 2006 collision occurred.  As a result of the injuries suffered by Mr. Tompkins which were caused by the negligent and criminally irresponsible driving of Tawnya Ley Bruce, Mr. Tompkins’ life has been permanently and very significantly altered.

[48] He has lost his ability to work in his trade at employment he enjoyed.  He has lost a great deal of his mobility and cannot enjoy activities such as skiing, hiking, snowmobiling, slow pitch, tennis and similar activities as he once did.  He cannot stand or sit for long periods of time.  His mood is depressed and his anger harms his relationship with other people ? particularly in the case of Nancy Larkin, his romantic partner after the accident who left him largely because of his anger and irritability.  In addition, Mr. Tompkins now faces the prospect of further surgeries, such as two knee replacements, another hip replacement, the prospect that the condition of his knees and hip may get worse ? and that each surgery comes with a risk of loss of function, dangerous embolisms, scar tissue, long recovery periods and possible poor results.

[49] On the other hand, Mr. Tompkins is an intelligent man whose depression and anger can quite likely be treated and improved.  He now has his own home in Chilliwack where he lives with his dog close to his sons and grandson.  He is capable of driving his car, at least as far as Chilliwack to Whistler.  There is a good chance that continued physical training will maintain his strength and may well improve his mobility and flexibility ? he has been capable of walking without a cane in the past, and even of lifting Nancy Larkin who weighs 115 pounds from her wheelchair into a car and it is not unlikely that his condition may again reach that level.  He did own and operate a boat after the accident and could again, and fishing is still possible.  While his trade work as he once did it is no longer open to him, there is the possibility he may find rewarding employment in some other field…

[53] Mr. Tompkins has been particularly unfortunate in having three major joints ? both knees and his left hip damaged in the collision.  Those injuries are permanent and the condition of those joints likely to get worse.  Considering that and his altered mood and other injuries, I find the sum of $200,000 a fair and reasonable amount for non pecuniary damages.

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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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