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Low Impact Collisions

ICBC claims that I am entitled to less compensation for my injuries because the collision was minor and there was no significant vehicle damage. Is this right? How will the court compensate me for my injuries?

In the case of Duda v. Sekhon (2015 BCSC 2393), the plaintiff was injured as a result of two motor vehicle collisions. At trial, ICBC argued that the plaintiff should receive less compensation for her injuries because the collisions were minor in nature and neither caused significant motor vehicle damage. After hearing the evidence, Mr. Justice Ball, awarded the plaintiff a total of $184,145.45 and addressed ICBC’s low-impact argument as follows:

62 Counsel for the defendants spent considerable time and effort making the submission that the two accidents did not cause significant motor vehicle damage. However, it has been clearly established in Canadian law that minimal motor vehicle damage is not “the yardstick by which to measure the extent of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff”. Mr. Justice Macaulay stated in Lubick v. Mei, 2008 BCSC 555 (B.C. S.C.) at para. 5:

The Courts have long debunked as myth the suggestion that low impact can be directly correlated with lack of compensable injury. In Gordon v. Palmer, [1993] B.C.J. No. 474 (S.C.), Thackray J., as he then was, made the following comments that are still apposite today:

I do not subscribe to the view that if there is no motor vehicle damage then there is no injury. This is a philosophy that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia may follow, but it has no application in court. It is not a legal principle of which I am aware and I have never heard it endorsed as a medical principle.

He goes on to point out that the presence and extent of injuries are determined on the evidence, not with “extraneous philosophies that some would impose on the judicial process”. In particular, he noted that there was no evidence to substantiate the defence theory in the case before him. Similarly, there is no evidence to substantiate the defence contention that Lubick could not have sustained any injury here because the vehicle impact was slight.

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