23 Sep Elderly Plaintiffs

Do elderly plaintiffs deserve to have their age taken into consideration when the court awards damages?  In the case of Mathroo v. Edge-Partington,  2015 BCSC 122, the Plaintiff was an 84 year old pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle in a cross walk.  He suffered an open fracture to his elbow which caused him ongoing discomfort.  He was not able to walk as often or as far as he had before the accident, had difficulty tending to his garden and had lost some social contact as a result of not being able to attend his former temple.

On the issue of non-pecuniary damages, the Plaintiff’s lawyer referred to the “golden years doctrine”.  This doctrine holds that retirement years are special ones and that an injury to an older person can cause more hardship than it would to a younger person (see Fata v. Heinonen, 2010 BCSC 385).  In contrast, the lawyer for ICBC referred to Olesik v. Mackin, [1987] BCJ No. 229 (S.C.), in support of the argument that a limited life expectancy of an older plaintiff justifies a lower award.

The trial judge noted that the applicability of Olesik had been questioned by other decisions of the Supreme Court, and that the golden years doctrine had only limited application in the present case.  He decided that the two competing principles essentially cancelled one another out, so that advanced age should not be a factor either way.