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$200,000 Awarded for Severe Injuries from Head-On Collision in ICBC Injury Case

In the recently reported case of Tompkins v. Bruce 2012 BCSC 266, Mr. Justice Curtis awarded $200,000 to a plaintiff who was severely injured in a head-on collision on the Sea to Sky Highway in June 2006.


Court Findings on Plaintiff’s Injuries in ICBC Claim


With respect to the plaintiff’s injuries, the court found the following:


[44] The expert opinions clearly outline Mr. Tompkins’ injuries and their relationships to the June 3, 2006 collision. There is no disagreement on the essential nature or course of the orthopaedic injuries he suffered − the fractures and ensuing consequences as described. It is recognized that Mr. Tompkins had a pre-existing degenerative condition in his cervical spine that was made worse by the accident, that he had previous significant low back pain, previous problems of lesser significance with his right hip, and a previous significant condition with his left knee, which has been made worse by the accident injuries. He has had a left hip replacement that is likely going to have to be replaced in 15 years, he will need a right knee replacement in the relatively near future and perhaps a further replacement of that knee and a left knee replacement in the more distant future. There is complete agreement that his orthopaedic condition permanently prevents him from going back to the type of work he was doing for the School District, or any other heavy working involving his lower limbs, and that even sedentary work is likely to be limited by problems sitting and standing.[45] It is also beyond dispute that Mr. Tompkins to date has suffered a significant psychological mood change caused by his injuries and disabilities resulting in irritability, anger and depression, but there is reason to believe that time and treatment will improve this.


Damages Rewarded in ICBC Injury Claim


In awarding the above amount, Justice Curtis said the following:[47] Wayne Tompkins was 50 years old, living in Pemberton and happily employed as a tradesman when the June 3, 2006 collision occurred. As a result of the injuries suffered by Mr. Tompkins which were caused by the negligent and criminally irresponsible driving of Tawnya Ley Bruce, Mr. Tompkins’ life has been permanently and very significantly altered.

[48] He has lost his ability to work in his trade at employment he enjoyed. He has lost a great deal of his mobility and cannot enjoy activities such as skiing, hiking, snowmobiling, slow pitch, tennis and similar activities as he once did. He cannot stand or sit for long periods of time. His mood is depressed and his anger harms his relationship with other people − particularly in the case of Nancy Larkin, his romantic partner after the accident who left him largely because of his anger and irritability. In addition, Mr. Tompkins now faces the prospect of further surgeries, such as two knee replacements, another hip replacement, the prospect that the condition of his knees and hip may get worse − and that each surgery comes with a risk of loss of function, dangerous embolisms, scar tissue, long recovery periods and possible poor results.

[49]On the other hand, Mr. Tompkins is an intelligent man whose depression and anger can quite likely be treated and improved.He now has his own home in Chilliwack where he lives with his dog close to his sons and grandson.He is capable of driving his car, at least as far as Chilliwack to Whistler.There is a good chance that continued physical training will maintain his strength and may well improve his mobility and flexibility − he has been capable of walking without a cane in the past, and even of lifting Nancy Larkin who weighs 115 pounds from her wheelchair into a car and it is not unlikely that his condition may again reach that level. He did own and operate a boat after the accident and could again, and fishing is still possible. While his trade work as he once did it is no longer open to him, there is the possibility he may find rewarding employment in some other field.

[50] Having reviewed the authorities cited to me, I am not persuaded that Mr. Tompkins’ injuries and disabilities, as bad as they are, are such that the award for non pecuniary damages should be the upper limit as established by the cases, which would now be about $330,000.

[53] Mr. Tompkins has been particularly unfortunate in having three major joints − both knees and his left hip damaged in the collision. Those injuries are permanent and the condition of those joints likely to get worse. Considering that and his altered mood and other injuries, I find the sum of $200,000 a fair and reasonable amount for non pecuniary damages.


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