14 Mar Drywaller Suffers Neck And Back Injuries

In the case of Elzinga v. Sharpe, 2019 BCSC 314, the Plaintiff was rear-ended by a vehicle travelling at approximately 100 kilometers per hour. The Defendant admitted liability for the accident.

Prior to the accident, the Plaintiff was in excellent health and physical shape for someone his age. He had no medical problems whatsoever before the accident. He was described by those close to him as energetic, outgoing, and full of life. Hunting, fishing, prospecting for gold, training horses, and competing in rodeos were all central to his existence.

The accident had a significant impact on the Plaintiff. Despite persevering admirably, he had been forced to modify his occupational and recreational activities. He continued to hunt after the accident but at a lesser intensity. He was no longer able to participate in team steer roping. He had hoped to continue this activity for many years to come, as it enabled him to continue socializing with other cowboys. He prospected gold less frequently because he was unable to move boulders or dig, and found bending painful.

The Plaintiff’s symptoms affected his ability to maintain his large property and the ranch. His children and son-in-law had to assist him with the physically demanding work that he used to do himself. He was able to ride horses and train them, but not to the same extent as before the accident.

The Plaintiff had been a drywaller since age 14 and owned his own drywalling company at the time of the accident.  After the accident, his doctor and occupational therapist advised him to stop boarding. He found that even mudding or simply bending over aggravated his pain, and he had to hire help to assist him.

The Court found that the Plaintiff’s future has been significantly altered by the accident and the resulting pain symptoms, and assessed his non-pecuniary damages at $85,000.  The Court also assessed his past earning capacity at $80,033 for past increased costs of labour. His loss of future earning capacity was assessed at $233,500 for the cost of hiring additional boarders and $220,000 based on a 50% probability that the Plaintiff would retire at 67, three years earlier than he had planned.