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Self-Represented Party Awarded $30,000 for Soft Tissue Injuries in ICBC Case

In the recently published case of Kumant v. Pommier, 2011 BCSC 1732 a self-represented party was awarded $30,000 in non-pecuniary damages (pain & suffering) for injuries arising from a motor vehicle accident which occurred in July 2007. In the accident, the plaintiff’s vehicle was struck from behind by a vehicle travelling at about 80 km/h and then subsequently by a second vehicle travelling at about 100 km/h. The plaintiff was seeking an award of $115,000. ICBC’s lawyers proposed an award in the $15,000 to $20,000 range.


Damages for Soft Tissue Injuries in ICBC Case


In awarding the above amount, Mr. Justice Melnick said the following:


[16] Mr. Kumant acted as his own lawyer in these proceedings. Although he did not supply me with any case authorities to suggest a range of non-pecuniary damages that he felt was appropriate, he did submit that an award of $115,000 for non-pecuniary damages was what he was seeking. However, I stated to him and to defence counsel at the end of the trial that I would review any decisions on quantum listed in the trial brief filed by his prior counsel. Some of them detail awards given for injuries much more serious than I have found were suffered by Mr. Kumant. Those that may be said to be at all relevant range from a low of $40,000 in Kassian v. Roy, 2008 ABQB 80, to a high of $65,000 in Kuskis v. Tin, 2008 BCSC 862. The defence suggested a range of $15,000 to $25,000 based on a number of cases from a low of $6,000 in Kain v. Kirkman, 2006 BCSC 1770, to a high of $25,000 in Smith v. Towns, 2005 BCSC 79.


[17] I have determined that an award of $30,000 is a fair assessment of Mr. Kumant’s non-pecuniary damages for the soft tissue injuries he suffered to his neck and cervical spine and for the extent to which his pre-existing injuries were exacerbated for much of the 12 month period of his recovery.


$15.00 Per Hour Awarded for Work Performed by Friend in Soft Tissue Injury Case


Mr. Justice Melnick also awarded the plaintiff an amount to compensate him for help with housekeeping and property maintenance. In that regard, the court said the following:
[20] I accept that Mr. Kumant required help with housekeeping and property maintenance for many months following the motor vehicle accident. Ms. Roberts and Mr. Thomason provided most of that. Mr. Gary Seitz (“Mr. Seitz”) helped get in firewood but took wood in exchange. Besides, he has not submitted any account for the services he provided. I would not make any award for the work done by Mr. Seitz.


[21] However, it is appropriate to compensate Mr. Kumant for the reasonable cost of housekeeping, property maintenance, cutting and chopping firewood, and so on. By “reasonable” I mean both in terms of an hourly rate appropriate to the nature of the services and the number of hours of service provided. Undoubtedly, Ms. Roberts and Mr. Thomason, as good friends of Mr. Kumant, did not both work every hour they recorded as being on his property. On the other hand, he lives in an out-of-the-way location and he was fortunate to have had them be prepared to travel to his property to help him.


[22] In my assessment, given the nature of the services provided, it is reasonable to compensate them at the rate of $15 an hour, not the $20 an hour submitted on their account. If Mr. Kumant wants to pay the full $20 an hour that is up to him. So, too, with the number of hours of work claimed and the period over which the work was performed. Mr. Kumant has provided an account indicating that they did work for him through to November 4, 2011. I do not doubt that they did so. But, after June 2008, any need he had for such assistance was not as a consequence of any injury received in the motor vehicle accident. The number of hours of work billed to the end of June 2008 is 433. Of that amount I would allow 400 hours as a reasonable amount of time working. At $15 an hour, that totals $6,000. I would award that amount to Mr. Kumant to pay for these services. In response to the defence position that this is essentially an in trust claim that was not pleaded, I find that with respect to the services of Ms. Roberts and Mr. Thomason at least, this is not so and the evidence satisfies me that he made a bona fide arrangement with them to provide services for compensation. As noted, however, the defendants should not have to shoulder the cost of the full extent of the services provided nor the full rates charged.


(written by Charles D. Jago)Need help with your ICBC injury claim? Call us.

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