Income Loss Claim

This was an assessment of the claimant’s losses arising from a motor vehicle accident in Nanaimo. The claimant’s vehicle struck the other vehicle broadside, and he suffered multiple soft-tissue injuries in a very heavy collision. He was a stoic individual that did not like to complain about his injuries, which makes assessment difficult for the court. As the judge comments:

A stoic nature ought not to result in a lesser award; this principle certainly applies to [the claimant], who has demonstrated strength of character in battling through considerable discomfort to carry on with his work as best he can.

The claimant was a 60-year-old journeyman plumber and businessman at the time of the personal injury trial. He was fit and enjoyed great health before the car accident. Evidence revealed that he had not seen his family physician for eight years.

His injuries significantly impacted his work and recreation. He claimed non-pecuniary damages, damages for impairment of his past and future earning capacity, and special damages. ICBC accepted that the claimant was a stoic and hard-working man who suffered significant injuries, so I’m not really sure why this case had to go to court.

Prior to 2010 this injury claim would have settled and not gone to court. However, ICBC as a policy, has refused to settle these future claims costing the corporation billions of dollars in lost revenue and appears to be holding out for low settlements.

The proper approach to an award for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life (non-pecuniary damages)  is settled and outlined in Stapley v. Hejslet, 2006 BCCA 34 at paras. 45-46. The factors to be considered include the age of the plaintiff, the nature of his injuries, the severity and duration of his pain, disability, emotional suffering, loss or impairment of life, the impairment of family and social relationships, the impairment of physical and mental abilities, and loss of lifestyle.

The claimant  suffered the effects of moderate soft-tissue injuries. He  lost the enjoyment and social contact from golfing,  using his ATV frequently and ski occasionally. Most significantly, the claimant suffered the frustration of prematurely losing his leadership role in the family company that he and his wife built.

He was 56 years old at the time of the car accident and had nearly another decade of working life. He is now a company employee, a valuable one when it comes to estimating and acquiring lucrative contracts. However, he was left unable to “keep up” on the physical side of the plumbing jobs.

The court award is summarized as follows:

Stapley v. Hejslet- Pain and Suffering $  80,000
Past Loss of Earning Capacity   70,000
Future Loss of Earning Capacity   70,000
Out of pocket expenses  1,827
TOTAL $221,827

Compensation for reasonable for future loss of earnings is an ongoing battleground for ICBC. It is therefore no coincidence that ICBC is the only government created insurance company currently under review.
Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness B.A. LL.B.– A lawyer with over 21 years experience prosecuting personal injury cases in BC.

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