Client Awarded $340,000 At Trial After Rejecting $83,000 ICBC Offer

Posted on by Mussio Goodman

Mussio Goodman has Obtained $340,000 At Trial for Client

We are pleased to announce that, after our client declined ICBC’s pre-trial offer to settle for $83,000, we proceeded to trial in the Supreme Court of British Columbia and obtained an award of $340,000 for pain and suffering, wage loss and medical expenses.

In July 2009, our client was rear-ended by a drunk driver at high speed and pushed into opposing traffic.  As a result of the accident, she sustained soft tissue injuries to her neck, back, and right knee.  She also started exhibiting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and heightened anxiety and depression.  Aside from a brief period immediately following the accident, our client was not able to return to her job as an apartment manager.

The primary issue in this case was whether our client’s symptoms flowed from her accident or whether they flowed from her pre-accident medical conditions, i.e., whether she was a “thin skull” or a “crumbling skull”.  Our client had a lengthy history of pre-accident health concerns, including “episodes of depression, panic attacks, respiratory difficulties, high blood pressure, low back pain and injuries suffered in previous motor vehicle accidents”.  This being the case, ICBC argued that our client did not suffer significant wage loss as a result of the accident because her pre-accident health problems would have disabled her even if the accident had not occurred.


Supreme Court of British Columbia Judge Decision

Mr. Justice Smith rejected this argument, finding as follows:

Despite her pre-existing problems, the plaintiff remained functioning and employed up to the date of the accident.  There is no evidence that any of her previous problems were disabling or that they were progressing and there is no medical evidence that any of them would necessarily have done so.

In this case, the picture is that of a person who had multiple long standing physical and psychological problems by was managing to cope with them, perhaps only just coping.  I find the accident was a final blow that she could not cope with or recover from and in that sense, she was a classic thin skull.  There is no doubt that the accident caused or contributed to her current condition.

This case demonstrates the fact that the court does not always view pre-accident medical conditions as a weakness in a plaintiff`s case.  To the contrary, such pre-accident conditions are sometimes seen to make plaintiffs more vulnerable to injury and can lead to higher than expected awards at trial.

It should be noted that every case is different and that past performance is no guarantee of future results.  It should also be noted that very few injury claims require a resolution in a courtroom; in the vast majority of cases, we are able to negotiate a fair settlement with ICBC on behalf of our clients.  However, in the event ICBC refuses to make a reasonable offer, we are always prepared to take the case to trial.