Court Awards $35,000 To Plaintiff In Claim Rejected By ICBC As A Low Velocity Impact

In Christoffersen v. Howarth, the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident, and brought an ICBC claim for pain and suffering for the soft tissue injuries that she suffered. ICBC’S lawyer submitted that the impact was a low velocity one, and that the Plaintiff could not have been injured as a result. ICBC’S lawyer further submitted that the minimal damage to the vehicle was the only evidence needed to prove that the Plaintiff did not sustain any injury. The Court rejected these submissions outright, and awarded the Plaintiff $35,000.00 for pain and suffering for her injuries, which continued 2 1/2 years after the accident up to the time of trial, also noting that she had an excellent prospect of recovery.


[53]         The defendant takes the position that on the basis of the objective fact that there was minimal damage to the vehicles, the Court must exercise caution in accepting subjective injury complaints.  It must examine all of the evidence carefully before concluding that the plaintiff has met the onus of establishing, beyond the balance of probabilities, that she was injured as a result of the collision:  Price v. Kostryba (1986), 70 B.C.L.R. 397 (S.C.) at 398 – 399.  Defendant’s counsel submits that the collision impact was so negligible that plaintiff could not have suffered any injury.  Alternatively, she argues that the plaintiff has either exaggerated her pain or that it is attributable to activities unrelated to the accident. 


[54]         The defendant urges me to draw what she described as the common sense inference that the plaintiff could not have been injured in such a minor collision.  Simply put, the defendant argues that the minimal damage speaks for itself and that no other evidence is necessary to show the plaintiff did not sustain any injury.


[58]         In order to accept the defendant’s argument, I would have to completely disregard the evidence of both the plaintiff and Dr. Morgan that the plaintiff was injured as a result of the collision.  I am not prepared to do so.  I found each to be credible, honest and forthright.  Their evidence was uncontroverted by the defendant.  At most, the plaintiff’s evidence was shown on cross examination to have been exaggerated in a few minor respects.


[59]         The defendant chose not to lead any medical evidence or opinion to contradict that of Dr. Morgan.  No evidence was led by the defendant regarding the amount of force that the plaintiff’s body was subjected to during the collision or how the shock absorbers built into the vehicles’ bumpers affected the damage that otherwise would have been sustained.  In my view, such evidence was required if the defendant wished to argue that the plaintiff was not injured by this collision.


[60]         I accept that the collision was relatively minor.  However, even a low impact collision can cause injury:Lubick v. Mei, 2008 BCSC 555 at paras. 5-6.  Here, the evidence clearly establishes that this low velocity impact was sufficient to move the plaintiff’s vehicle forward from a completely stopped position even though the plaintiff had her foot on the brake pedal. 


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