The 15 year old Claimant in this personal injury case was one of nine teenage passengers in a vehicle travelling at a high rate of speed, planning to throw eggs at people.
She had drunk from a shared 2‑litre bottle of alcohol cider and sat in the vehicle wearing no seatbelt. Before the accident they stopped to buy eggs which were then thrown at people as they drove through Langford. The Claimant testified that she did not throw any eggs.
Not surprisingly, after the others in the vehicle encouraged the driver to accelerate to 150 km per hour, the 17 year old driver lost control causing the car to crash violently into a ditch.
The Claimant sued the driver for $250,000 alleging that she suffered physical and psychiatric injuries. However, the Judge, Sitting in Victoria BC, did not accept her case for losses and found her 40% at fault for very minor and temporary injuries (2015 BCSC 272).
After the car accident the Claimant was taken to hospital but did not complain of neck or back pain. Neither a neck collar nor a spinal board was used and her main concern was a cut several inches long to her right thigh. Other than a few stitches in her thigh she received no other treatment at the hospital and was released into her mother’s care.
ICBC, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, hired an independent insurance adjuster to investigate the accident. The Claimant ended up signing a statement for the ICBC investigator stating in part that she had no neck or back injuries.
The Judge found that an appropriate money award for pain and suffering, without considering contributory negligence, would be $8,000 for her scar and $500 for her bruises, scrapes, and minor cuts. However the judge found the Claimant 40% at fault for her own injury because of several reasons including being aware that the driver had been drinking, the driver was a novice with too many people in the vehicle and she knew that the other occupants planned to throw eggs at people from the moving vehicle.
Oddly, the Judge did not find the claimant partly at fault for not wearing a seat belt stating:
With respect to [the Claimant’s] failure to wear a seatbelt, the Court notes that she was not thrown from the vehicle. There was no evidence presented that her injuries would have been any different if she had been wearing a seatbelt. Accordingly, the Court will ignore this factor in assessing [the |Claimant’s] contributory negligence based on the rule in Koopman v. Fehr (1993), 81 B.C.L.R. (2d) 145 (BCCA).
The award for her scar, bruises, scrapes, and cuts was therefore $5,100 [($8,000 + $500) x 60%].
Posted by Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.