01 Jul Multiple Accidents

When a party is involved in more than one motor vehicle accident, the question to be determined is whether and to what extent each of the accidents caused or contributed to the pain suffered by the injured party.

In the case of Kallstrom v. Yip, 2016 BCSC 829, the Plaintiff was involved in six separate motor vehicle accidents between March, 2001 and December, 2004.  Four different lawsuits arising out of five of those accidents were heard at the same trial.

The Plaintiff claimed that the cumulative effect of the accidents had resulted in an “indivisible injury” and that all the Defendants should each be jointly and severally liable for the full amount of the damages to be assessed.  The Defendants, on the other hand, challenged causation and argued that any chronic pain or psychological problems experienced by the Plaintiff were largely caused by incidents and stressors in her life not related to the accidents and for which they ought not be held responsible.

One of the challenges in this case was determining the losses sustained as a result of each accident.  This was complicated since ICBC admitted MVA 1 and MVA2 were caused by the negligence of the respective Defendant drivers, but they denied that the Plaintiff was injured in those accidents.  ICBC denied liability for MVAs 3, 4 and 6, and alleged that both the accidents and any injuries were entirely caused or contributed to by the negligence of the Plaintiff.  In each case, ICBC also alleged, in the alternative, that if the Plaintiff’s suffered injuries, these were caused by previous or subsequent traumas or were congenital defects.

The Court decided that it was not necessary for the Plaintiff to establish that the accidents were the sole cause of her injuries and related losses.  It was sufficient, for the Defendants to be liable, that each of the accidents was just part of the cause of her injuries.  The Defendants were all jointly liable for the entire amount of the Plaintiff’s loss, excepting those items that could be specifically allocated to any one accident.  In those cases, minor monetary adjustments were made by the Court with respect to the individual judgement.

The Court awarded the Plaintiff $180,000 in non-pecuniary damages for past and future pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of amenities.