We will review an Alberta Court of King’s Bench decision, published on March 14, 2023 referenced as Couch v Olatiregun, 2023 ABKB 104 (CanLII).
This was a case involving a rear end collision which occurred on April 13, 2017. The Defendant, who was unrepresented, and did not attend the trial, was found 100% at fault for the collision. This case involved an analysis and determination pursuant to the Minor Injury Regulations in Alberta, and whether the injuries caused by this rear end collision were outside of the interpretation of what is deemed to be a “minor injury.”
The Plaintiff claimed damages for the following injuries resulting from the motor vehicle collision:
- neck and upper back stiffness;
- injury to shoulders;
- injury to mid back;
- pain in the ribs.
A wage loss claim is not being advanced, nor was there a claim for property damage.
An Alberta Collision Report Form before the Court noted that the April 13, 2017 crash was a rear end collision that did not result in any injuries, and that Calgary Police had not attended the scene. This collision was a property damage incident. There was allegedly no damage to the Plaintiff’s vehicle and minor damage to the Defendant vehicle.
A chiropractor, who was treating the Plaintiff, diagnosed a WAD II injury in April of 2017. By August of 2017, there was noted improvement and the chiropractor had recommended ongoing treatment for an additional 4 to 6 weeks. There was further evidence that the Plaintiff returned to pre-accident level of activities, was working full time, and there were no noted restrictions at work.
The Court concluded:
“There is no chronic pain issue in this case. It is clear that he has not suffered a serious impairment and that he had ongoing and pre existing medical history relevant to and consistent with his post accident treatment modality.”
Minor Injury Framework
This case went into a discussion regarding the Minor Injury Regulations in Alberta. Of note, it can be confusing as there is the “old” interpretation of what injuries are captured under the Minor Injury Regulations, and new interpretation which is relevant for claims that occur post November 1, 2020. As a reminder, this collision occurred on April 13, 2017 and will involve the “old” interpretation of minor injuries.
The new interpretation (which is not applicable to the subject case), states the following:
Effective November 1, 2020, when the meaning of “minor injury” was expanded and redefined as sprains, strains or Whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) injuries “caused by the accident that does not result in a serious impairment and includes, in respect of a sprain, strain or WAD injury that occurs on or after November 1, 2020, any clinically associated sequelae of the sprain, strain or WAD injury, whether physical or psychological in nature, caused by the accident that do not result in a serious impairment.”
A sequelae means a condition which is the consequence of a previous disease or injury. So, the definition was expanded to include not only sprains, strains or WAD injuries caused by an accident that did not result in “serious impairment” but also conditions that were a consequence of those sprains, strains or WAD injuries.
The analysis of whether an injury is deemed to be minor is determined on the following basis:
- whether an injury is a sprain, strain, or WAD injury; and
- whether the injury results in a serious impairment: MIR, s 4(1).
The following cases were referenced in this case:
As per the analysis in Sparrowhawk, the Court stated the following:
“I find that there is no physical or cognitive function impairment, that the sprain, strain or WAD injury was a primary factor for a minor injury of limited duration as a result of the motor vehicle accident. The impairment did not cause substantial inability, in fact did not cause any inability to perform essential work tasks, essential facets of training or education, or normal activities of the plaintiff’s daily living. With some minor exception the impairment has terminated. In all it is important to note that his training at work and his work was not impaired as a result of this accident. His employment required minimal physical activity, generally sitting and observing computer screens for x-ray analysis of carry-on baggage. Some minor pre accident household chores were impacted, but minimally. There does not appear to be much in terms of sporting or leisure activity that was interrupted, nor were physical relations with his wife, nor caring for or playing with his children, although there appears to be some minor inconvenience with respect to walking his dogs.
Jackson v Cooper, 2022 ABKB 609.
We want to highlight this decision, which also offers a detailed discussion on the Minor Injury Regulations (pre-November 2020) and resulted in an award above the CAP. We our linking our article Minor Injury Regulations, Alberta.
The Court in Jackson v. Cooper concluded that the injuries sustained by this Plaintiff were not capped by the Minor Injury Regulations. The Court did state that the evidence must be viewed as a whole and concluded that the Plaintiff’s “ongoing chronic myofascial pain is not a “minor injury” under the MIR.”
As noted by the Court:
“I find that, as a result of the motor vehicle accident, Mr. J. sustained a serious impairment, namely, an impairment of a physical or cognitive function, which has resulted in a substantial inability to perform the normal activities of his daily living, which has been ongoing since the motor vehicle accident, and which is not expected to improve substantially. In any event, chronic myofascial pain is not the type of injury covered by the MIR as it existed at the time of the accident.”
In Jackson v. Cooper, the Court awarded $55,000. And stated:
“Although Mr. J. received treatment for his injuries for only 7 months after the motor vehicle accident and was able to continue full-time employment, he has sustained a significant and ongoing negative impact on his normal activities of daily living and his enjoyment of life. Given Mr. J.’s injuries and the impact that it has had on his life, his general damages for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life are assessed at $55,000.”
In the subject case, the Plaintiff’s injuries were deemed to be minor, a WAD 1 injury. Furthermore, the Plaintiff was not able to prove that the injury resulted in a serious impairment. The Plaintiff did not have functional impairments that were of significant duration, his work was not interrupted and nor were his activities of daily living interrupted.
The Court stated the following:
I find that Mr. C. has suffered a minimal inability and has not suffered any whole person impairment. I find that there has been an injury within the WAD 1 level and that the MIR does capture Mr. C.’s claim for general damages for pain suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. I fix that amount at $3,000. I am not in a position to be able to substantiate for loss of housekeeping. There does not appear to be any evidence of any quantifiable loss to him or the members of his family in residence with him.
I do find that there were some special damages with respect to travel to and from his chiropractic clinic and there were 76 visits at .50 per kilometre I fix that at $1,672. I am not satisfied that the claim to move his daughter back to Calgary can be justified and associated or attributed to the motor vehicle accident. I award him $50.00 for painkillers.
Current award for capped injuries:
The maximum amount payable under the Minor Injury Regulations for accidents occurring on or after January 1, 2023 is $5,817. As per the Bulletin:
In accordance with the MIR, effective January 1, 2023, the maximum minor injury amount of $5,488 will be adjusted by six per cent, to $5,817. The new amount is applicable to minor injuries resulting from automobile accidents that occur in Alberta on or after January 1, 2023.
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