Assessment of damages for US resident injured in Canadian car accident
Reasons for judgment were released today in the case of Burke v. Schwetje 2017 BCSC 2098. This case involved a claim for damages as a result of a serious car accident that had occurred in May 2010. Fault for the accident was admitted. The plaintiff suffered a permanent injury to his right hand and wrist in the accident. The complicating factor in this case was that prior to the accident the plaintiff had mostly asymptomatic arthritis in his hands. This required the trial judge to make a determination on causation. But for the accident, what condition would the plaintiff’s hands and wrists be in? The trial judge found that the thumb and wrist pain suffered by the plaintiff post collision resulted from a significant aggravation of previously largely asymptomatic conditions in the plaintiff’s hands and wrists.
With respect to the assessment of damages, the trial judge noted that the plaintiff was unable to continue working as a commercial fisherman and that his culture, friendships and livelihood had all changed significantly since the collision and because of the collision. His career was shortened by the aggravation of his asymptomatic arthritis and he faced continuing pain and possibly one or two surgeries. $95,000 for pain and suffering was awarded.
Because the plaintiff was an American citizen his damages, with the exception of the award for pain and suffering were paid in US dollars. This included the awards for loss of capacity.