20 Mar Cost of Future Care for Paraplegic

When a person is seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, the cost of caring for them in the future is an important part of their personal injury claim.  For example, in the case of Warick v. Diwell, 2017 BCSC 68, the Court awarded the Plaintiff $4,503,880 for future care costs.

In Warick v. Diwell, the 52 year old Plaintiff was involved in an extremely serious motor vehicle accident. She and her husband of 27 years, along with two of their close friends, were returning from a ski holiday at Sun Peaks Resort to their home in Edmonton.  An oncoming semi-trailer driven by the Defendant crossed into their lane, striking their vehicle. The Plaintiff’s husband and their two friends were killed in the collision.  The Plaintiff suffered major injuries, the most serious of which was to her spinal cord, which left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Most of the Plaintiff’s personal injury claim had settled, except for the cost of her future care.  The Plaintiff had to prove that the care she was asking for was both medically justified and reasonably necessary to preserve her health.

The Plaintiff had been receiving very basic care in her home from Alberta Health Services, totaling 2.43 hours per day.  The care aides provided had no knowledge of her particular condition except what she provided to them, there was little continuity in who attended over time, and the rigidity of their availability inhibited her ability to live with the degree of spontaneity that a person who did not have her accident-related health needs would enjoy. The Court noted this care did not approach what a person of ample means would find reasonable to address her in-home health concerns.

The Plaintiff’s evidence was that a three-hour period in the morning would allow her to perform all necessary health-related functions. The Judge agreed with this, in addition to a two-hour period between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. when her pain became acute each day, and a further two-hour period in the evening for end-of-day care.

Although the Plaintiff had been managing overnight on her own, ideally a caregiver would turn her during the night. There were also medical benefits to being able to catheterize in the night with assistance, so the Judge held that a care aide during the night was medically justified.

The Judge concluded that the Plaintiff required 13 hours of care per day at this point in time.  The Judge noted that the Plaintiff’s best option, both in terms of the amount and quality of required care and the benefit of flexibility, was to purchase these services from an agency.

The Judge also considered that the Plaintiff would have increasing joint problems and loss of strength as she aged.  Her inability to propel herself with a manual wheelchair and transfer independently to and from beds, chairs, wheelchairs and vehicles on her own would progressively overtake her independence, both around the house and during her outings.  Compounding these challenges were the negative psychological effects of aging with a spinal cord injury.  To address these developments the Judge ordered an increase to 16 hours of care per day at age 64, 20 hours per day at age 70 and 24 hours per day at age 74.

Determining cost of future care can be complex.  Contact Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota – we have the expertise to ensure you receive the care you need.