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Retired Lawyer Represents Himself in Personal Injury Case and Receives Low Award


This case is another reminder of why it is important to hire a personal injury lawyer if you have been injured in a car accident( see: Pearlman v. Phelps Leasing Ltd.,2011 BCSC 1696).
The Judge had a difficult time accepting the testimony of the claimant stating, “The plaintiff’s credibility from the onset of the trial before me through to its conclusion dissipated like aspirin in a glass of water until all that remained was a murky, cloud-like substance. ”
The claimant was a 77-year-old retired lawyer who represented himself on a claim for injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident. The other driver admitted liability, but  stated that the collision was minor in nature and any symptoms of which the claimant complains existed before the accident in question. The claimant was involved in two other car accidents one before and one after the accident in question therefore the issue was primarily one of causation.

As to the appropriate compensation, the Judge found that,

[44]  After having reviewed all of the exhibited medical records and reports, and after considering all of the viva voce testimony, it seems fair to conclude, on a balance of probabilities, that it is more likely than not that the plaintiff experienced from the 2007 Accident an exacerbation of his pre-existing symptoms. However, it appears to have been minor and not long in duration. The plaintiff developed no new symptoms. He was back doing physical labour within a few days, and his complaints from that time to the present would likely have continued, regardless of the 2007 Accident. His pre-existing condition was well described by Dr. Baird and Dr. Keyes and there was no reliable, positive evidence to indicate that he developed some further injury of a permanent nature as a result of the 2007 Accident. It is telling, indeed, that the plaintiff’s statement of claim with respect to the 2004 Accident is almost identical to his statement of claim respecting the 2007 Accident…

[47]         The case law indicates that a reasonable award of non-pecuniary damages for the plaintiff’s aggravated injury is in the range of $15,000 to $20,000 (Hough v. Wyatt, 2011 BCSC 910; and Dempsey v. Oh, 2011 BCSC 216). It is interesting to note that in both these other cases, the plaintiff was found to be lacking credibility and the Court was obliged to rely on the medical evidence to determine the cause of the plaintiff’s claims of injury. I find myself in a similar position, and on the evidence before me, I award the plaintiff $20,000 in total damages arising from the 2007 Accident.

The judge agreed with the defendant’s submission  that the injury claimant suffered only a slight aggravation of a chronic, symptomatic, disabling, pre-existing condition. Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness

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