As a personal injury lawyer in Vancouver I have represented many clients ages 70 and over and I am familiar with some of the unique issues that arise after a car accident in assessing appropriate compensation for the elderly. In this post I’d like to look at a recent falling injury case(Etson v. Loblaw Companies Limited (Real Canadian Superstore), in which the 78 year old injury claimant tripped, fell and broke her hip. I just reviewed this case analysing the finding of fault against Superstore but this post will focus on the award for pain and suffering.
In this case the lawyer for Superstore was not able to take the position that the claimant would not have enjoyed her pre-accident activity level for a long future period of time given her age. There was no evidence in this case that the claimant would not have continued to enjoy her active and independent life style for many years to come. In the Court’s view, this was a case where the claimant’s injuries could be viewed as,” more profound due to her age. In Pingitore v. Luk,  B.C.J. No. 1866 (S.C.), the court noted (at para. 36) that “[i]njury to older people is, from at least one vantage, more profound than injury to the younger” and referred to these comments in a decision of the Court of Appeal of England, in Frank v. Cox (1967), 111 S.J. 670:
I take the view myself that when one has a person in advancing years, in some respects an impairment of movement may perhaps be more serious that it is with a younger person. It is true, as Mr. Chedlow has stressed, that he has not got as many years before him through which he has to live with this discomfort, pain and impairment of movement. But it is important to bear in mind that as one advances in life one’s pleasures and activities particularly do become more limited, and any substantial impairment in the limited amount of activity and movement which a person can undertake, in my view, becomes all the more serious on that account.”
The judge found that the injuries had a profound effect on the claimant’s life. Her active and independent life style, which was important to her, was seriously compromised for over a year and a half. During that time she experienced significant pain and had to undergo three surgeries. By the time of the trial she was able to resume most of her former activities but with residual effects. The judge awarded the claimant $90,000 for pain and suffering. Posted by Mr.Renn A. Holness