Some of us are just not “complainers” by nature. That is to say, if certain people are involved in a car accident, they will not complain or “make a fuss” about their injuries or pain. Of course, they will still seek medical attention. But they just are not the type to complain about any ongoing discomfort or physical limitations arising from their accident.
Of course, there is a difference between not being a complainer and not seeking to hold the negligent party responsible for a motor vehicle accident accountable. Even when an accident victim makes an effort to work through the pain, he or she may still not be able to earn a living to the same degree as before the accident. In such cases, the victim can and should seek compensation from the responsible parties.
Consider this recent decision by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in Burnaby, Rickett v. Sangra. The plaintiff in this case is a man in his early 30s with what the Court described as a “young and expanding family.” Four years ago, in February 2015, the plaintiff and his brother were driving to an auto repair shop. The plaintiff’s truck was damaged the day before when it hit a chunk of ice in the Lac Du Bois area near Kamloops. The plaintiff’s brother was taking him to pick up the truck.
The plaintiff and his brother were travelling north on Batchelor Hills Drive just north of Kamloops. Batchelor Hills Drive intersects with Grasslands Boulevard. As the plaintiff’s vehicle approached this intersection, the defendant was driving his own vehicle westbound on Grasslands Boulevard. The defendant drove right through the intersection without stopping at the stop sign. The defendant’s brother tried to make a “hard right” turn to avoid a collision, but still managed to T-bone the defendant’s car.
Prior to the February 2015 accident, the plaintiff worked as an exterior sider. After being laid off from a prior job in 2007, the plaintiff decided to start his own siding business, which he operated in Victoria until 2012. In that year, the plaintiff decided to move his business to Kamloops so he could be with his common-law partner, who worked as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in Kamloops. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff’s business largely consisted of subcontract work for another exterior siding company. At trial, the plaintiff testified that he did most of the work himself, although he “hired a helper from time to time.”
The plaintiff saw a doctor the day after the accident. The doctor diagnosed the plaintiff with soft-tissue “musculo-ligamentous injuries” to his neck, back, and right hand. On the doctor’s advice, the plaintiff took four days off from work. The plaintiff noticed upon his return, however, that his right hand–the dominant one which he needed to work–was “sore.” The plaintiff decided it was simply a sprain and decided to “work through the pain.” The pain did not subside over time and started to get worse, according to the plaintiff. At times, he said he experienced numbness and “really sharp pain” as he tried to pick up the siding products he used in his work.
In March 2015, the plaintiff returned to the doctor, who confirmed he suffered a fractured wrist. The doctor outfitted the plaintiff with a cast, which meant he could not work at all. Even after the cast was removed approximately two months later, the plaintiff said he “felt that his hand was weak.” Despite this, the plaintiff decided to get back to work as “money was tight.”
The plaintiff ultimately accepted a job working as a sider directly for a home builder. Despite working steadily since July 2015, the plaintiff testified in court that the “it has not been easy or pain free.” He continues to experience frequent bouts of soreness and “shooting pain” in his hand while at work.
At trial before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Leonard Marchand of Kamloops, the defendant admitted both liability for the accident and the fact the plaintiff sustained a hand fracture as a result, but the defence disputed the “extent of the impact” on the plaintiff’s work and life. However, while the defence submitted its own medical expert’s report to refute the evidence presented by the plaintiff’s doctors, the defence expert did not testify at trial. Justice Marchand largely disregarded the defence expert’s report, as it was not served on the plaintiff by the deadline specified in the Supreme Court Civil Rules.
Overall, the judge said he found all of the witnesses who did testify to be “highly credible and reliable.” In particular, the Court cited the testimony of the plaintiff himself. Justice Marchand noted, “There are two kinds of people who do not complain–those who have nothing to complain about and those who are not complainers.” The judge said the plaintiff was “firmly in the latter category.”
As to the issue of non-pecuniary damages to compensate the plaintiff for his pain and suffering, Justice Marchand noted the plaintiff “has been mostly able to maintain his income but this has come at an extremely high personal cost.” Rather than penalize the plaintiff “for his stoicism,” the judge decided an award near the top of the range for such cases was appropriate here, which came out to $80,000.
More significantly, the Court awarded $250,000 in damages to compensate the plaintiff for his future loss of earning capacity. This takes into account “projections based on [the plaintiff’s] diminished productivity” and other contingencies, Justice Marchand said. Combined with other parts of the award, the judge ordered the defence to pay approximately $355,000 altogether, independent of court costs.
If you are injured and unable to work following a car accident, you should not hesitate to take legal action in order to protect you and your family. An experienced Burnaby motor vehicle accident lawyer can assist you in seeking compensation from any responsible parties. Contact the Preszler Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.