24 Jun Plaintiff Has Complex Pre-Collision History

No-one’s life is perfect, but some people do have more difficulties in their lives than others.  Even if a person’s life is complicated before their accident, those difficulties may not prevent them from making a successful personal injury claim.

In Birkich v. Cantafio, 2016 BCSC 40, the Court considered the damages sustained by a 17 year old pedestrian who was struck in a crosswalk.  The Plaintiff had had a very difficult childhood, for various reasons.   Her parents separated when she was young and her father was not involved in her life at all.  Her mother was involved in negative relationships and for 2-3 years the Plaintiff was sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend.  When she told her mother about the abuse, her mother did not end the relationship so the Plaintiff left home at 13 years old.  After that, she lived with various friends and would occasionally live with her mother.  She fell in with the wrong crowd and left school after grade 8.  She began to engage in self-harm behaviours such as ‘cutting’.  Her attempts to reconnect with her father were unsuccessful and it became apparent to her that he was a drug dealer.  The work the Plaintiff found at various fast food and retail stores only lasted for short periods of time.  However, prior to the motor vehicle accident the she had been employed at Starbucks for almost a year and was involved in a romantic relationship.

Following the collision, the Plaintiff alleged various injuries, including a mild traumatic brain injury.  She was struggling.  Finances were tight and she had a limited support network.  In addition to her physical injuries, she had headaches, dizziness, and impaired cognition which led to a psychological decline, including depression.  Although she attempted to return to work at Starbucks, she was unable to cope.

ICBC argued that the Plaintiff would have been in the same position regardless of the collision, given her past history.  The Court rejected this argument.

The Court noted that although the Plaintiff had many stressors in her life, with emotional and behavioural consequences, she was working happily at Starbucks and was generally happy in her personal relationship before the collision.  In essence, her life seemed to be stable in the time leading up to the collision.

The Court agreed that the various injuries the Plaintiff sustained in the collision, including a traumatic brain injury, had a negative impact on her life.  The Court awarded the Plaintiff the following damages:

Non-pecuniary damages$125,000
Loss of future earning capacity$175,000
Costs of future care $47,581