The injury claimant was a 32-year-old plumbing apprentice when he was seriously injured  in a head-on collision(Cassells v. Ladolcetta,2012 BCCA 27). The claimant was driving his car in the westbound centre lane of Canada Way, one of Burnaby’s major east-west connectors.  As he approached Canada Way’s uncontrolled intersection with Sprott Avenue, the other driver, intending to turn slightly left and head straight onto Sprott, drove her pickup truck into the claimant’s car. After  three weeks of trial and 19 witnesses plus 17 expert witnesses, the court found the other driver and owner solely responsible for the accident and made a substantial award against them. 
He suffered extensive soft tissue injury to his neck, thoracic and lumbar spine, right shoulder, elbow, and right knee, as well as a compression fracture in his lumbar spine, all which left him with residual symptoms that it was said he would continue to experience to some degree.  In addition, he sustained a minor frontal lobe brain impact injury and he developed what the judge found to be a subclinical post traumatic stress disorder.
 His 77-page judgment is indexed as 2009 BCSC 1151. 
    The respondent had for some time suffered from, and been treated for, skin psoriasis.  He was found to have also manifested an early indication of psoriatic arthritis.  After the accident, in time the psoriasis became particularly bad and the psoriatic arthritis became fully developed to the point that the respondent was no longer able to do the physical work of a journeyman plumber for which he had apprenticed.  The primary issue at trial was whether, and if so the extent to which, the accident had served to aggravate the respondent’s pre-existing disease.
The judge described psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis as follows:

[15]      The evidence of the medical experts explained that psoriasis is what is thought to be an auto-immune mediated skin disease that can fall anywhere on a graph between a minor nuisance to grave condition.  It is not curable, but in most cases treatment can control it, with varying degrees of success.  Most people with this condition can work and live their lives mostly unimpeded, but in some cases it can be a challenging, even debilitating, and worse, disease to live with.  Dermatologists usually treat psoriasis.

[16]      Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis closely connected to psoriasis.  It is also thought to be auto-immune mediated.  Not all people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, which typically presents itself in some form within 10 years, usually in peripheral joints.  Rheumatologists treat psoriatic arthritis, so psoriatic arthritis patients consult with two specialists, one to treat the skin, the other the joints.

The Court of Appeal upheld the finding that the claimant’s Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis was aggravated by the trauma and stress for the car accident stating:

[16]  The judge reached the ultimate conclusion he did concerning the aggravation of the respondent’s psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis relying on the evidence of the various physicians whose opinions he had to consider.  Dr. Gladman’s opinion on the effect of trauma on psoriatic arthritis is consistent with the other opinion evidence which the judge found acceptable, as well as with the evidence of the respondent’s medical condition and, for that matter, the deterioration in his life after the accident.  I do not consider there to be any sound basis on which it can now be said the judge made an overriding and palpable error in concluding the respondent’s psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis were aggravated by trauma and stress attributable to the accident by relying on Dr. Gladman’s opinion.

Posted by personal injury lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness

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