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In Parker v. Martin, 2017 BCSC 446, a chiropractor was injured while backing out of a parking stall. While he stopped to let a pedestrian walk by, another pickup truck that was also backing up bumped into his vehicle. Although it was a low speed accident, the plaintiff was injured as a result.

The plaintiff was diagnosed by his family physician as having grade1 low back symptoms and mechanical strain. After some CT and MRI scans, he was found to have sustained soft tissue injuries to his neck and low back, facet joint injuries to his neck, re-aggravation of lumbar disc disease, and cervicogenic or post-traumatic headache. To complicate matters, shortly after the accident, the plaintiff suffered a heart attack. Mr. Justice Ball was called on to determine the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries from the accident and assessment of how those injuries affected his ability to practice.

As with many low impact accidents, many of his symptoms were subjective and  the Courts are cautious when awarding damages when there is little or no objective evidence of continuing injury and where complaints of pain continue for longer periods than normal (Price v. Kostryba, 70 B.C.L.R. 397 and Butler v. Baylock, February 4, 1983 Vancouver Registry No. CA81115 unreported).

In assessing the plaintiff’s damages, Mr. Justice Ball reiterated the principle from Athey v. Leonati, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 458 that the person who is at fault for the accident is only required to put the plaintiff in the position they would have been in had the accident not occurred.  The at-fault defendant is not responsible for the effects of the heart attack.

For non-pecuniary damages Mr. Justice Ball awarded $45,000 for his neck and shoulder pain, and headaches.

Since the plaintiff had not missed any work as a result of his accident symptoms, he did not make an argument for a past wage loss. The defendants argued that since there had been no wage loss since the accident, the court should consider that fact when considering whether the plaintiff proved that he had lost the ability to earn income in the future.

In order to succeed on a claim for a loss of future earning capacity, the law requires that the plaintiff must establish a “real and substantial possibility that his or her earning capacity has been impaired” (Morgan v. Galbraith, 2013 BCCA 305). In assessing whether there is a real and substantial possibility that the plaintiff’s will earn less money in the future, the courts have traditionally taken two approaches: the lost earnings and the capital asset approach. In the lost earnings approach, the court attempts to directly measure the difference in what the plaintiff would have earned against what they will likely earn. This approach is suited to situations where the plaintiff’s income is easily measurable.

Where someone’s earnings are not easily measured, eg such as student who has not yet started his career, the court employees the “capital asset approach”. This approach treats someone’s ability to earn income as an asset which has been reduced by an injury. In this approach, the court attempts to quantify the value of that loss and will consider other evidence: a person’s grade, personality, general employment trends and salary data.

Mr. Justice Ball declined to make an award of future loss of income on the basis that he had not proven on a balance of probabilities that there would be a loss of income due to the accident. He did award $10,700 for the cost of future care.

Small Accidents Can Cause Big Injuries
March 30, 2017

In Parker v. Martin, 2017 BCSC 446, a chiropractor was injured while backing out of a parking stall. While he stopped to let a pedestrian walk by, another pickup truck that was also backing up bumped into his vehicle. Although it was a low speed accident, the plaintiff was injured as a result. The plaintiff […]

Uninsured Driver Ordered to Pay up for Injuries
March 23, 2017

In Dizon v. Losier, 2017 BCSC 431, a plaintiff was injured after being rear-ended by the defendant. The accident occurred at an intersection with 2 left turning lanes and the plaintiff was attempting to make a left turn. While attempting to make the left turn the light changed to amber and the plaintiff, not believing […]

Dangerous Drunk Driver Lands Pub in Hot Water
March 16, 2017

In Widdowson v. Rockwell, 2017 BCSC 385, a plaintiff was injured walking home from work  when he was struck by a heavily intoxicated driver. Prior to the accident, the defendant stopped at Cambie Malone’s bar for drinks where he consumed liquor. He then stopped briefly at his house before continuing on.  He was arrested at the […]

Prior Testimony Kills Plaintiff’s Credibility at Trial
March 10, 2017

In Ross v. Andrews, 2017 BCSC 338, a plaintiff was ordered to pay double costs to ICBC after failing to win in his trial. He was injured in a car accident in Surrey in 2011. After a 15 day trial, a jury determined that the plaintiff had not received any injuries in the accident. Prior […]

City Found Liable for Trip and Fall on Broken Sign
March 2, 2017

In Binette v. Salmon Arm (City), 2017 BCSC 302, a women brought a suit against the city of Salmon Arm after she tripped on a metal traffic sign that was poking out the sidewalk. A crosswalk sign had been severed from its base and had remained in the sidewalk. It was later repaired sometime after […]

ICBC Hit with Double Costs After Refusing Reasonable Offer to Settle
February 23, 2017

In Risling v. Riches-Glazema, 2017 BCSC 252, Ms. R was involved in a car accident and was awarded $622,500 at trial in Supreme Court. Prior to the trial, her counsel hade made an offer to settle with ICBC for $315,000 plus costs and disbursements under Supreme Court Rule 9-1. At a hearing for costs, she […]

Car Accident | Will a new car help?
February 6, 2017

Watch this video posted on Facebook by the Daily Mail which shows that a new car could save your life in an accident: Crashing cars What a 1997 car crash looks like compared to now! Posted by Daily Mail on Saturday, February 4, 2017 This video posted on Daily Mail’s Facebook page shows how driving […]

The 411 on Chronic Pain
February 2, 2017

A serious car accident can result in life long chronic pain. Chronic pain is often defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks. It is unique in that the pain persists for months or even longer. Chronic pain can be overwhelming and many people feel like they can’t cope. Complications from this type of […]

Motorcycle Accident Results in Million Dollar Award
January 12, 2017

The goodfirm ICBC lawyers want to draw attention to a recent case involving a serious motorcycle accident. In Sundin v. Turnbull, 2017 BCSC 15, the young man was rear ended while riding his motorcycle outside of Kelowna. He thrown from the motorcycle and landed 15 feet away. The plaintiff had the good fortune of wearing […]

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