Plaintiff suffered loss of earning capacity; second accident aggravated injuries from first
The loss of the 66-year-old plaintiff’s ability to carry out heavy physical duties as a “red-seal” electrician caused him emotional suffering and significantly reduced his enjoyment of life, a B.C. court accepted in a recent case.
In Repa v. Geil, 2022 BCSC 531, the plaintiff grew up in what is now the nation of Ukraine and worked in electronics manufacturing. He applied for immigration to Canada as a skilled worker and arrived in Vancouver in 1999.
The plaintiff was involved in two motor vehicle accidents in 2015. In August 2015, when he was 60 years old, he was driving along the street when a woman pulled her vehicle out of a parallel parking spot and collided with the passenger side of the plaintiff’s vehicle. In October 2015, the plaintiff was driving on a winding road when a truck hit the front driver’s side of his vehicle.
The plaintiff submitted that the injuries he sustained in the accidents caused ongoing symptoms, including chronic pain, and prevented him from continuing his work as a red-seal certified electrician in industrial and high-voltage settings.
To accommodate his injuries, the plaintiff allegedly had to downgrade the nature of his work, limit himself to part-time work, and had to stop many of his favourite sporting and leisure activities. Physiotherapy, chiropractic, and massage treatments helped but did not completely resolve his pain, he claimed.
The defendants for both accidents admitted liability. However, they argued that the medical evidence showed that the plaintiff had no restrictions or limitations, although he would feel some pain when doing certain activities.
The B.C. Supreme Court considered the evidence of medical professionals. Following the first accident, the plaintiff experienced moderate pain due to soft tissue injuries to his neck, back, and right shoulder but continued working afterward. These injuries did not fully resolve before the second accident, the court found.
For the second accident, the plaintiff’s prior injuries were aggravated, the court said. The injuries prevented him from doing heavy physical activities such as lifting heavy equipment or performing sustained overhead work. He developed post-traumatic, persistent headaches due to these injuries.
The plaintiff had to modify the nature of his duties to continue working and had to either eliminate or modify his recreational pursuits. He received medical treatment for his injuries and followed the recommended exercise regime, but his recovery levelled off and his injuries became chronic.
The court awarded the plaintiff $27,700 for past loss of earning capacity and $86,500 for future loss of earning capacity. The evidence showed that, before the accidents, the plaintiff enjoyed his work, was capable of doing all aspects of his electrical work without restrictions, and had no plans to retire, mainly because he was late in starting his working life in Canada.
Non-pecuniary damages of $80,000 were reasonable and fair based on the evidence, the court held. The plaintiff experienced a loss and diminishment of his lifestyle and enjoyment of life because of the injuries and pain.
As for special damages, the plaintiff incurred out-of-pocket, accident-related expenses of $5,081.60, including for physiotherapy treatments. In all, the defendants were liable for damages of $199,281.60, the court concluded.