How many of these cases have you read?
Personal Injury law evolves through changes in the common law application of accepted legal principles as well as legislative change and interpretation. This article focuses on changes in the common law and legislative interpretation in BC, not new legislation, of which there was very little in 2016 relating to personal injury law.
The most exciting change for injury claimants in 2016 was the clear decision that ICBC claimants are entitled to reinstatement of total disability benefits if they return to work and then subsequently become disabled again ( see Symons v. ICBC, Powell v. ICBC). There are also many other new changes, none too sexy, such as the acceptance of email offers to settle for consideration by the court and new rules on ICBC allegations of fabrication.
So without further delay,the shortlist of most important injury law cases in 2016:
Supreme Court Judges have no power to change cost awards
A Supreme Court Master refused to force this injury claimant to submit to ICBC medical examinations and the Master awarded her costs. The judge made a substantial award of damages and awarded the claimant to costs at Scale B but denied her costs of defending these two applications. The claimant was successful in her appeal of the denial of costs as Supreme Court Judges have no power to change these types of cost awards made by Masters (Kondor v. Shea,2016 BCCA 15).
ICBC Disability Benefit Reinstated
Total Disability benefits with ICBC can now be reinstated. The Court of Appeal has done away with any legal basis for ICBC’s policy of denying disability benefits when total disability arises beyond the first 104 weeks of a car accident(Symons v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia,2016 BCCA 207 and followed by Judge Dillon in Powell v. ICBC,2016 BCSC 1432 ). Long term disability benefits for personal injury claims must now be paid for future periods of total disability up to age 65.
Email Offers to Settle Accepted by Court
Astonishing new communication rule from our Court of Appeal will effect all personal injury cases in the Province: When parties agree to the use of email as a form of communication, once delivered to the email inbox of the other lawyer, the delivering party now has a “legitimate expectation that the email would be read”. (Great Wall Construction Ltd. v. Lulu Island Winery Ltd., 2016 BCCA 227)
Driving as Quickly as Possible No longer the Law
An annoyingly slow overtaking vehicle cannot be blamed for the bad driving of others. The Court of Appeal has ruled that the overtaking another vehicle as quickly as reasonably possible standard is now inappropriate in British Columbia ( Borgfjord v. Boizard, 2016 BCCA 317).
Signing Authorizations for ICBC not Useful
ICBC tried to force the claimant to sign authorizations for the production of certain medical records (Gee v. Basra,2015 BCSC 2495) . The parties consented to this but the court pointed out that “It is not good practice to apply without notice to third party record holders”. A court order forcing the claimant to sign authorizations does nothing to compel a clinic or employer to produce records, and it is the third party who should be bound by the court order and not the claimant.
Prior Statements Admissible to Rebut ICBC Allegations
This amazing win by the injury claimant on appeal confirms that prior consistent statements of injury claimants are admissible to rebut an allegation of recent fabrication (T. v. ICBC et al, 2016 BCCA 373). Prior consistent statements can include ICBC dial-a-claim reports, signed ICBC statements, online ICBC statements, 911 calls, police statements, oral statements to witnesses, paramedics, fire crew, and health care professionals.
There are of course many other cases that I wanted to include in this list that readers have suggested, however, it was a busy year in personal injury so I stuck to all Court of Appeal cases with the exception of Symons v. ICBC and Gee v. Basra which is critical for all personal injury lawyers to read.
I hope you have benefited from this shortlist of top 2016 personal injury cases and I look forward to 2017!
Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.- Personal Injury Lawyer for over 21 years in Vancouver. Settling and prosecuting injury cases on behalf of the injured.