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ICBC Claim: General Damages for an Active Plaintiff

I was very active before my crash, and I loved being outside.  Things are really different for me now – how will the court assess my loss?

In the recent personal injury case Lock v Floreani (2017 BCSC 1313), the plaintiff was a 36 year old woman who suffered from pain and fatigue after a car crash.  Prior to the crash, she was very active, and had enjoyed what Justice Russel called “strenuous outdoor activities” – things like extreme hiking and long motorcycle trips.  After the crash, she was limited to quieter outdoor pursuits – walking her dog, camping in trailer, and short hikes.  The loss of those strenuous outdoor activities was a big one for the plaintiff – she had really enjoyed having a “work hard, play hard” lifestyle, and she testified that the crash left her unable to work hard or play hard.  Justice Russell summarized the impact on the plaintiff’s life outside of work as follows:

[194]     Emotionally, she has found it difficult to accept the reality of her continuing pain and the limitations it imposes.

[195]     Ms. Lock has lost the formerly active lifestyle she enjoyed, including the particularly strenuous outdoor activities she formerly engaged in with her partner.

[196]     Any physical activity she undertakes must be tempered with the knowledge that, if she pushes herself too hard, she will suffer pain the next day.

[197]     She can no longer take long trips on her motorcycle, do overland camping, or extreme hiking.

[198]     Her life is not entirely devoid of pleasant outdoor activity:  she walks regularly with a friend, goes to yoga weekly, enjoys taking her dogs for walks, does some hiking, and camps in organized campsites with her partner and friends.

[199]     However, she can no longer indulge her passion for strenuous activity and this is a loss that she finds hard to bear.

[200]     The fact that her injury has evolved to cause chronic pain is an unfortunate but not unforeseeable consequence. She is a person of “ordinary fortitude” whose injury is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s negligence.

Noting that she found the following quote from paragraph 37 of Rizzolo v Brett (2010 BCCA 398) pertinent, Justice Russell awarded the plaintiff $115,000.00 in general damages:

[37]      As can be seen from those cases, trial judges have assessed non-pecuniary damages at well over $100,000 where there is an element of significant ongoing pain and particularly, where the plaintiff had previously enjoyed an active lifestyle …