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Tag: Skusek v. Gill

ICBC Soft Tissue Injury Claims Round-up

On Friday the  BC Supreme Court released reasons for judgement in 2 cases dealing with soft tissue injuries which I summarize below to continue to grow this free database of ICBC Injury Claims Judgements. Additionally, both of these cases contain a useful analysis of Plaintiff credibiilty and are worth reviewing for anyone interested in this area of the law.
In the first case, Skusek v. Gill, the Plaintiff was injured in 2 BC car crashes, the first in 2000 and the second in 2006.  Liability was admitted in both cases leaving the court to deal with quantum of damages (the value of the plaintiffs injuries and losses).
The Plaintiff was 22 years old by the time of trial.  She suffered various soft tissue injuries in both collisions which did not fully resolve.  Mr. Justice McEwan of the BC Supreme Court largely accepted the evidence of Dr. Ames who summarized the Plaintiff’s injuries as follows:

[20] The plaintiff saw Dr. Janet Ames on August 22, 2007.  Dr. Ames took a history which suggested significant ongoing pain from the first accident which was seriously aggravated by the second:

After the first accident on January 12, 2000 the symptoms included headaches, neck pain, lower back pain, pain between the shoulder blades and bilateral hip pain.  She commented her entire back hurts.  At the time of the second accident she was still going for chiropractor treatment and physiotherapy.  The patient would place her recovery at about 50 percent before the second accident.

After the second accident the patient describes becoming a lot worse in all of the previously symptomatic areas and specifically the right hip became worse.  There were bruises from the seat belt.  The left anterior ribs felt “out of place” (later resolved with chiropractor care).

[21] She note the following symptoms on her examination:

1. There is pain across the low back, left greater the right.  The pain does not consistently radiate down the legs.  There is occasional pain down both anterior thighs not going past mid thigh.  There is no tingling or numbness associated with this.  There is no history of bowel or bladder control problems.  The patient describes pain in the area of the right hip and points to the lateral aspect of the hip.

2. There is pain in the mid back area, left worse than right.  This does not radiate around the chest or through to the front.  There is no history of tingling or numbness.

3. There is a history of headaches described as frontal, temporal and from neck tension.  The frequency and severity varies.  There is no pain down the arms and no tingling or numbness.  Caffeine intake is 1 c. of coffee or tea every two or three weeks and chocolate about twice a week.  The patient will be seeing a Neurologist in February 2009, arranged by Harris Johnsen.

4. The patient comments that she has a lot of stomach aches daily.

5. Sleep varies depending on the pain level.

[22] The prognosis was as follows:

The prognosis for the various injuries is good as there are no clinical findings consistent with a serious injury.  This excludes the problem with the headaches.  The patient will be assessed by a Neurologist who will comment on the diagnosis and prognosis with regards to the headaches.

Determining when the symptoms will come under good control and/or resolve is very difficult.  The patient may benefit considerably from low dose Amitriptyline to improve sleep and a consistent core stability/strengthening program with one or one supervision.  The supervision from a Pilates instructor would continue until she was on a full program and was aware of how to progress the exercises.  This usually takes about eight sessions over eight weeks.  The patient then graduates to doing the exercises on their own or joining a small group.

Damages of $50,000 were awarded for the Plaintiffs non-pecuniary loss (money for pain and suffeirng and loss of enjoyment of life) and $60,000 was awarded for the young Plaintiff’s diminished earning capacity.

Paragraphs 41-48 of this judgement are worth reviewing for anyone interested in some of the factors courts look at when weighing a Plaintiff’s credibility in soft tissue injury cases.

In the second soft tissue injury case released on Friday (Mohamadi v. Tremblay) the Plaintiff was awarded $10,000 for non-pecuniary damages as a result of injuries sustained in a 2006 BC car crash.   In valuing the Plaintiff’s injuries at this modest figure Mr. Justice Truscott of the BC Supreme Court summarized the injuries as follows:

[91] It is extremely difficult to determine the value of the plaintiff’s claims with all of the inconsistent evidence he has given and the lack of supporting evidence from his doctors.

[92] I do accept that in the motor vehicle accident of February 14, 2006 the plaintiff sustained soft tissue injuries to his neck, back and left shoulder, accompanied by headaches.

[93] I am prepared to accept that his soft tissue injuries lingered on for a period in the order of two years on a mild basis but thereafter I conclude that he had recovered with no long term consequences.

[94] I accept that his headaches lasted for a short period of time but thereafter this complaint is not supported by his physicians and I reject his evidence that his headaches continued thereafter.

This case is also worth reviewing for the court’s discussion of plaintiff credibility in soft tissue injury claims.  Many of the Plaintiff’s claims were rejected by the Court.   Specifically in paragraphs 95-113 the court gives reasons for rejecting many of the Plaintiff’s claims and these paragraphs contain a useful discussion for anyone interested in some of the factors courts consider important when weighing credibility in ICBC Injury Claims.