Car accident injuries in the elderly over 65 years of age can be profound and personal injury lawyers need to apply a different case analysis in British Columbia. So how do personal injury lawyers and Judges determine fair compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life for the elderly? Well the following ICBC case example, money for pain and suffering injury case(Dent v. Young,2013 BCSC 1603), illustrates the factors BC courts consider when giving compensation to the elderly following a car accident injury.
The personal injury claimant was passenger in a pickup truck when the truck was struck from behind while stopped on 200th Street in Langley, BC, waiting to make a left turn into a driveway.  The claimant  developed significant pain and reduced mobility and claimed injuries to his jaw, neck, shoulders, back and legs arising from the accident. He also suffered headaches and sleep disturbance. The injury claimant was 71 years old and by all accounts he was an active and vital person who loved to take his wife dancing and go for motorcycle rides before his car accident injury. The Judge found that the facts were similar to those cases in which older claimants have suffered significant negative changes to their lifestyle and independence due to their injuries.
In awarding the claimant $65,000.00 for pain and suffering the court noted that the claimant was almost 71 years old at the time of the accident and 73 years old at trial. While he had degenerative disc disease and one and possibly two compression fractures in his back prior to the accident, they were not causing him difficulties.  It was found that the accident robbed the claimant of considerable satisfaction and enjoyment that he otherwise may have experienced in his “golden years”. Judge Arnold-Bailey summarized the law much better than I could with the follow passage:

[110]     When an older person is injured and suffers these impairments to their mobility, the negative change in their physical abilities must be considered with all due seriousness. As stated by Lord Justice Sachs in Frank v. Cox (1967), 111 Sol. Jo. 670 (C.A.), which was adopted by Fraser J. in Moody v. Windsor (1992), 64 B.C.L.R. (2d) 83 at 93 (S.C.):

I take the view myself that when one has a person in advancing years, in some respects an impairment of movement may perhaps be more serious than it is with a younger person. It is true, as Mr. Chedlow has stressed that he has not got as many years before him through which he has to live with this discomfort, pain and impairment of movement. But it is important to bear in mind that as one advances in life, one’s pleasures and activities particularly do become more limited, and any substantial impairment in the limited amounts of activity and movement which a person can undertake, in my view, becomes all the more serious on that account.

One of the hallmarks of the the Golden Years Doctrine is an acknowledgement, or judicial notice, that aging limits activity which in turn increases the value of the remaining function. The injury claimant was awarded the following:
1.   Pain and suffering  in the amount of $65,000;
2.     Out of pocket expenses in the amount of $4,193.68;
3.     Cost of future care in the amount of $3,000;
4.     Loss of housekeeping capacity in the amount of $5,000; and
5.     Pre-judgment interest pursuant to the Court Order Interest Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 79.
As a personal injury lawyer I  have represented numerous elderly ICBC injury claimants, take a look at some of my other articles about compensating the elderly for pain and suffering . Also go further and learn more by checking out our short video about brain injury in the elderly.
Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.


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