Woman Involved in Six Different Motor Vehicle Accidents Succeeds at Trial
In Kallstrom v. Yip, the plaintiff, Ms. Kallstrom, was involved in six different motor vehicle accidents between 2001 and 2004. Ms. Kallstrom complained of chronic pain, bad headaches, daily depression, suicidal thoughts, chronic fatigue, and nightmares of the motor vehicle accidents. The plaintiff claimed that the accidents had prevented her from stable and consistent work for a considerable period of time and had caused crippling depression that led to three suicide attempts over the course of five years.
The defence argued that many of these motor vehicle accidents were minor ‘fender benders’ that would not cause the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries. However, the Court in this case rebuts the defence’s assumptions that the plaintiff’s substantial injuries weren’t caused by the multiple accidents. Mr. Justice Kent of the British Columbia Supreme Court cited Gordon v. Palmer where he noted:
“I do not subscribe to the view that if there is no motor vehicle damage then there is no injury. This is a philosophy that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia may follow, but it has no application in court. It is not a legal principle of which I am aware and I have never heard it endorsed as a medical principle… Significant injuries can be caused by the most casual slips and falls. Conversely, accidents causing extensive property damage may leave those involved unscathed. The presence and extent of injuries are to be determined on the basis of evidence given in court. Objectivity is thus preserved and the public does not have to concern itself with extraneous philosophies that some would impose on the judicial process.”
Furthermore, the Court concluded that:
“It is not important from a legal perspective whether, absent objective evidence of permanent musculoskeletal physical injury, one labels the condition as myofascial pain, ‘chronic pain syndrome’, fibromyalgia, or ‘persistent somatic symptom disorder with predominant pain.’ There is simply no doubt that Ms. Kallstrom has suffered, and will continue to suffer, from a complex constellation of disabling neck and back pain, headaches and depression. I am entirely satisfied, and I find as a fact, that these conditions are ‘real’ in the sense that Ms. Kallstrom genuinely experiences them.”
While one of the motor vehicles was much more serious than the others, the plaintiff argued that all of the motor vehicle accidents contributed to the indivisible injury she suffered. The Court in this case upheld the judgment in Bradley v. Groves which confirmed that all tortious defendants who contribute to an indivisible injury are fully liable for it, even in the face of an underlying pre-existing condition. All defendants in this trial were found to be liable for Ms. Kallstrom’s injuries.
The Court awarded Ms. Kallstrom $742,000.00 in damages.