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Slip and Fall in Superstore Results in Brain Injury


This slip and fall claimant was awarded $175,000 for the pain and suffering arising out of a brain injury.  The claimant sought  damages under the Occupiers Liability Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 337 (“OLA”) for injuries suffered in a slip and fall that took place at the  Real Canadian Superstore located at 333 Seymour Boulevard, North Vancouver, British Columbia.

The injury claimant slipped on a large pool of liquid laundry detergent in the Superstore and sustained a head injury as a result. The judge found that the sweep log procedure and the maintenance of sweep logs for various departments of the Superstore, were in principle, a reasonable system of inspection and maintenance.(Harrison v. Loblaws, Inc. (Real Canadian Superstore,2018 BCSC 575)

However, the Superstore system of inspection and maintenance on the day of slip and fall was not being followed. There was no evidence that  any employee was trained with respect to the procedure or the extent of time that devoted to any inspection.  It was unclear whether the time noted on the sweep log was the time when she purportedly conducted the inspection, or the time when she was making the notation on the sweep log.

In finding Superstore at fault for the injury the judge made this comment of the law:

[48] In Atkins, the Court of Appeal held at para. 6 that “It is not enough to demonstrate that there is a plan in existence.  The defendants must call some evidence to show that it was being followed”.  To paraphrase Cumming J.A. in Kayser v. Park Royal Shopping Centre Ltd. (1995), 67 B.C.A.C. 275 at p. 334, there must be evidence from which it is reasonable to infer that the system in place for ensuring that hazards are minimized was followed on the day in question.  It is clear that the standard required to be met is not one of perfection and that an occupier is not to be treated as a general insurer for all of its customers: Davis v. Kin’s Farm Market (Lynn Valley) Ltd., 2010 BCSC 677 at para. 38, and Beaman v. Canada Safeway Ltd. (1993), 115 Sask. R. 100 at para. 17 (Q.B.).

The claimant was awarded $175,000 for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life for brain injury. The claimant was 48 at the time of the falling accident.  She suffered a significant head injury and suffers from serious headaches and other symptoms.  She has a permanent disability and she has suffered from a loss of confidence and a loss of enjoyment of life as a result of her accident.  Her physical and mental abilities were clearly been impaired.

Dr. Cameron, neurologist, testified that the claimant suffered from an altered state of consciousness or loss of consciousness at the time of her slip and fall.  He concluded that the claimant fulfilled the clinical criteria for a diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury (“MTBI”).  In his report, he points out that CT brain scans and MRI brain scans can only visualize residual changes following focal macroscopic injury.  The nature of a MTBI or concussion is microscopic in nature and as such, would not be visible through these types of scans.

Dr. Cameron indicated that the claimant had developed symptoms consistent with post-traumatic brain injury syndromes or post-concussion syndromes following the MTBI.  The symptoms included headaches, dizziness, decrease in balance, nausea, decreased memory, decreased concentration, decreased attention span, irritability, mood swings, anger, outburst, decreased self-esteem, decreased self-confidence, and sleep disturbance patterns. The traumatic headaches were also a residual effect of the MTBI and her ongoing cognitive complaints were attributable to her injuries.

The claimant was found to be competitively unemployable and suffered from permanent symptoms. The following is a summary of the total award:

Non-pecuniary damages $175,000.00
Past loss of income $195,000.00
Loss of future capacity $375,000.00
Cost of future care $4,100.00
Special damages $6,449.25
TOTAL $755,549.25

Posted by Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.– Serving victims of personal injury for over 22 years.

Tags: occupier liability

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