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Small Vehicle Damage and Injury

I can’t believe that I am continuing to suffer from significant pain arising from a really minor collision where the vehicles were not going terribly fast and there was very little damage.  ICBC doesn’t believe it either.  Am I still entitled to compensation?

In the recent case Kallstrom v Yip (2016 BCSC 829), the plaintiff was involved in six car crashes between 2001 and 2004, five of which were the subject of the lawsuit, and none of which were dramatically significant by way of severe impacts with lots of twisted metal. She claimed that she suffered injuries in those collisions that resulted in debilitating chronic pain and depression leading to multiple suicide attempts. She claimed that those injuries made it difficult for her to hold down any long term employment and her personal relationships suffered.

Mr. Justice Kent quoted from two previous cases where the common sense notion that the significance of a collision and amount of damage to a vehicle do not determine the amount of damage caused to the vehicle occupant:

[329]     Much scepticism, some might say cynicism, can accompany claims that significant injury has been sustained as a result of a minor MVA, and particularly so where there is little objective evidence of physical injury and where complaints of pain persist far beyond what most observers might consider to be “normal”.  It must be remembered, however, that not everybody has the mental or physical constitution of a rugby prop forward.

[330]     In Boag v. Berna, 2003 BCSC 779, Williamson J. noted somewhat sardonically:

[12]      …I am aware that it is often inappropriate to equate the damages to a motor vehicle to injuries that may be sustained by occupants of that vehicle.  That a piece of steel is not dented does not mean that the human occupant is not injured.

[331]     And in Gordon v. Palmer (1993), 78 B.C.L.R. (2d) 236 (S.C.), Thackeray J. stated:

[4]        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.

[5]        Significant injuries can be caused by the most casual of slips and falls. Conversely, accidents causing extensive property damage may leave those involved unscathed.  The presence and extent of injuries are to be determined on the basis of evidence given in court.  Objectivity is thus preserved and the public does not have to concern itself with extraneous philosophies that some would impose on the judicial process.

[6]        In the case at bar the limited amount of motor vehicle damage is not, in my opinion, the yardstick by which to measure the extent of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. … The extent will be decided on the evidence.

[332]     I agree with these points of view.  Whether the plaintiff has been injured and to what degree is something that must be determined on the evidence in every case.

In the end, Mr. Justice Kent passed judgment in the plaintiff’s favour in the amount of $742,000.00.