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A common issue that arises in motor vehicle claims is whether to commence an action in BC Supreme Court or Provincial Court (also referred to as Small Claims Court). In this province, the BC Supreme Court has broader authority and discretion than the Provincial Court. Motor vehicle claims, however, can be heard by either level of court. Claims for damages in Provincial Court, however, are limited to $25,000. Persons who wish to commence an action should carefully consider the nature of their injuries and the respective amount of damages. Damages may include money for pain and suffering, loss of income, and possible future cost of care.
On September 21, 2011, the BC Supreme Court released the decision of KOONER V. SINGH. The plaintiff in this case was injured after he was struck by the defendant’s vehicle. The plaintiff commenced an action against the defendant in BC Supreme Court. The defendant, however, brought an application to transfer the case to Provincial Court. The BC Supreme Court dismissed the defendant’s application.
In DOBRE V. LANGLEY, 2011 BCSC 1315 (“DOBRE”), a decision released October 4, 2011, the Court considered how to apportion liability in a personal injury case where the Plaintiff was struck by the Defendant while riding his bike in a cross-walk. The DOBRE decision provides an example of how compliance with the “rules of the road” can directly affect who is liable for a particular accident, and to what extent.
FARRANT V. LAKTIN, 2011 BCCA 336 (“FARRANT”), an August 2, 2011 judgment of Neilson J.A., underscores how causation is not an “either/or” proposition. The trial judge in FARRANT held that the Plaintiff’s pre-existing spinal degeneration was the cause of his ongoing pain, and that the whiplash he suffered in the accident at issue resolved within four months. These conclusions led the trial judge to award damages of $20,000; the Plaintiff appealed.
In the case of SMAGH V. BUMBRAH, 2011 BCCA 281 (“SMAGH”), the Court considered an appeal by the Plaintiff of a trial decision in which a Supreme Court jury awarded the Plaintiff $2,000 for non-pecuniary damages and nothing for past loss of income, loss of future earning capacity, or cost of future care. The collision which gave rise to the proceedings was a rear-end collision that resulted in the Plaintiff claiming neck and back injuries.
In the case of GATZKE V. SIDHU, 2011 BCSC 1214 (“GATZKE”), released on September 9, 2011, Saunders J. provided reasons on costs. In an earlier judgment on liability and quantum of damages (reported at 2011 BCSC 988), the Plaintiff was found to be 70% at fault and consequently received only 30% of the $31,500 awarded at trial.
However, before any award of damages was made the Defendants had made a settlement offer of $50,000 pursuant to Rule 9-1 of the SUPREME COURT CIVIL RULES, an amount much higher than the approximately $10,000 the Plaintiff ultimately received. Because the settlement offer was higher than the amount awarded, the Defendants sought an order stating that they were entitled to all of their costs incurred after the offer was made. This kind of order is permitted by Rule 9-1(5).
In the case of X V. Y, 2011 BCSC 944 (“X. V. Y.”), the Court determined the appropriate apportionment of liability for a serious collision that arose out of unique factual circumstances. The Plaintiff, Mr. X., was an R.C.M.P. officer who was responding to an urgent emergency situation after the collapse of an overpass on the Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam. The Plaintiff was riding a police motorcycle with lights and sirens activated when he was struck by the Defendant, Mr. Y., who was executing a U-turn to avoid backed-up traffic near the collapsed overpass.
The evidence of the case critically disclosed that the Plaintiff had activated his emergency lights and sirens and repeatedly sounded his air horn when responding to an active “Code 3” call. Code 3 calls require responding officers to activate their lights and sirens and proceed to the scene of the emergency at a safe and reasonable speed.