17 Oct Collision Causes Stroke

Injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are not always straightforward. In McKenzie v. Lloyd, 2016 BCSC 174, the Plaintiff was involved in four motor vehicle collisions over a three-year time period. The key issue before the Court was the cause of the stroke the Plaintiff suffered 18 days after the first collision.  This was significant because he was 42-years old and permanently disabled.

The first collision was minor.  The Court noted that at the time of the collision the Plaintiff was looking left.  When he braked to try to avoid the collision, his head snapped forward and backward.  Although he did not seek medical attention until the stroke, witnesses testified he had a stiff neck and headaches following this collision.

Eighteen days after the first collision, the Plaintiff hit his head on the doorframe of a cedar playhouse he was disassembling in his yard.  The next day, he felt nausea and vertigo.  His family doctor assessed him and contacted an emergency physician, who contacted a neurologist.  The next day, he attended for an emergency CT scan and consultation with the neurologist.  The CT scan showed a stroke resulting from a vertebral dissection and thrombolytic emboli.

A witness testified that when the Plaintiff bumped his head on the playhouse there was no side-side or forward-back movement.  The family doctor testified that she was surprised the CT showed a stroke; after the bump, she expected different injuries.  It was not until she learned of the collision that the stroke made sense to her.  The treating emergency neurologist agreed.  Dr. Teal testified that the mechanism of injury is more important than the severity of the trauma.  He also indicated that strokes can occur two to four weeks after the vertebral dissection. After reviewing the expert evidence, the Court concluded the first collision caused the stroke.

After assessing damages, the court awarded the following amounts to the Plaintiff:

a)non-pecuniary damages$162,000.00 
b)past wage loss$193,256.00(gross) and subject to deduction for income tax
c)loss of future earning capacity$593,704.00 
d)cost of future care$130,524.00(subject to adjustment)
e)special damages$13,627.44 
 Total$1,093,111.44(subject to adjustment)