There is no shortage of opportunity to blog about ICBC LVI (Low Velocity Impact) cases as these seem to go trial frequently. While each case is unique and have varying outcomes based on the severity of injury, the courts reactions to the ‘no crash no cash’ position often advanced on ICBC’s behalf seems to end in a predictable result. It is typically rejected.
The issue always is, on a balance of probabilities, does the evidence establish that the Plaintiff was injured in the crash? Not “how significant was the vehicle damage”.
In yet another example of BC courts reactions to LVI crashes, reasons for judgment were released today awarding a Plaintiff $12,000 for various soft tissue injuries.
The accident happend in 2005. It was a rear-end crash. The defendant gave evidence that the crash was so minor that ‘he did not hear any impact’. The Plaintiff, on the other hand, stated that the impact was ‘a jolt that threw her forward although she was restrained by her seatbelt‘.
As is often the case in ICBC LVI cases, the lawyers put into evidence the photographs of the vehicles. The pictures showed minor damage to the Plaintiff vehicle and no visible damage to the Defendant vehicle.
The court accepted that the Plaintiff was injured in this crash. The Plaintiff complained of headaches, neck pain, upper back pain, lower back pain, right shoulder pain and right ankle pain.
The Plaintiff suffered injuries in previous car accidents and also in a subsequent fall. This complicates the courts job somewhat in assessing the extent of the injuries suffered in this LVI trial.
The medical evidence was that the Plaintiff, while injured in this LVI crash, should not have any permanent consequenses as a result of her injuries. In other words, she should get better. The Plaintiff’s doctor also testified that ‘a lot of her symptoms arise from ‘something else’ (something other than the crash)… She has an underlying condition of depression and alcohol consumption which makes her depression worse’.
One thing that should come to no surprise to ICBC injury lawyers is the position taken by the defence lawyer in this case. It was argued that ‘there should be no award as the symptoms are not reasonably attributable to the accident’. In support of this argument the defence lawyer cited Mustapha v. Culligan of Canada Ltd. For full background you can read my former blog on this case but for the sake of this blog here are the broad strokes:
In Mustapha the Plaintiff claimed to suffer psychological injury due finding flies in a bottle of water supplied by Culligan. The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the lawsuit claiming that such an injury was not ‘foreseeable.’. Just last week I was discussing Mustapha with a senior colleague ICBC claims lawyer and we concluded it was only a matter of time before an ICBC defence lawyer would bring Mustapha to a court’s attention claiming that injuries from an LVI crash are not ‘forseeable’. Fortunately, Mr. Justice Savage, rejected such an argument at paragraph 39 of the judgment.
All was not rosy for the Plaintiff, however. The court found that she ‘tended to exaggerate her symptoms, which, expecially laterrly, are probably not attributabel to the accident. I accpet, however, that she was injured in the accident but her ongoing symptoms after one year post accident are a result of her failure to mitigate her damages, or other causes’.
For the soft-tissue injuries with headaches and other symptoms which the court found lasted for only one year (at least in terms of being related to the accident) the court awarded non-pecuniary damages (pain and suffering) of $12,000.