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Injury Claim Arising from Four Car Accidents Results in $119,000 Award


The injury claimant in this multiple rear-end car crash case(Keenan v. Fletcher, 2011 BCSC 520) was a 46-year-old police officer with the New Westminster Police Service. Amazingly the claimant was involved in four motor vehicle accidents in the same year, all of which ICBC admitted liability. She claims she suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck, right shoulder and lower back, as well as headaches, as a result of the motor vehicle accidents.
The two main issues in dispute were whether any  of the claimant’s symptoms were due to the accidents and if so, what amount should she be awarded as a result of those injuries.
The judge found that on account of the soft tissue injuries Ms. Keenan suffered to her neck, shoulders and back in accidents #3 and #4, and was entitled to the following award of damages:

a)  Pain and Suffering $  48,000
b)  Past Loss of Income and Opportunity: $  19,314
c)  Future Loss of Earning Capacity: $  45,000
d)  Cost of Future Care: $    6,000
e)  Out of pocket expenses: $    1,175
   
Total: $119,489

The judge was not satisfied that the claimant had suffered any injuries resulting from MVA #1 or MVA #2. “The nature of the accidents, the force of the collisions and Ms. Keenan’s ability to carry on with her work on those days without any difficulty, convinces me that she suffered no injuries from these accidents.” As the court went on to state,

“In addressing and resolving the question of “causation” I need to be satisfied on a balance of probabilities that “but for” the motor vehicle accidents or any of them, the injuries to Ms. Keenan’s neck, right shoulder and lower back would not have occurred: Athey v. Leonati, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 458; Resurfice Corp v. Hanke, 2007 SCC 7…

Compounding the situation is the physically demanding and stressful nature of Ms. Keenan’s job. As a constable on patrol, Ms. Keenan is regularly at risk of suffering some form of injury or pain as a result of her work. The truth of this proposition is borne out by the fact that since 2006 Ms. Keenan has had a number of work-related accidents, including having her motorcycle fall over on her foot and striking her knee against the side of a police vehicle after having slipped on ice.

On account of all of these contingencies, I will discount Ms. Keenan’s claim for non-pecuniary damages, loss of wages and overtime opportunities and loss of earning capacity by 20%.”

Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness

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