SMR lawyers David Eleff and Elizabeth Janzen were counsel for Mr. Michael Smith, a firefighter and father of two who suffered injuries in a motor vehicle accident. He sustained a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, post-traumatic headaches, PTSD, and neck and back pain that had had become chronic by the time of trial. Expert opinion was that Mr. Smith was unlikely to see any further medical improvement with respect to his injuries.
The Court found that Mr. Smith was a stoic individual whose sense of self-worth had been shattered by his inability to work and care for his spouse, children and household as he did prior to the accident. Further, the Court found that his recreational activities had been significantly curtailed and the impact of the accident had caused Mr. Smith to focus the bulk of his time off work from firefighting on recovering to be able to maintain his employment. These were important factors in the Court’s non-pecuniary damage award.
At the time of the accident, Mr. Smith had been working as a plumbing apprentice in his days off from firefighting. He was working his way towards obtaining his red seal and had planned to continue working as a plumber on his off days from firefighting. He also planned to work as a plumber full-time post-mandatory retirement from the fire hall. The Court found that due to the accident, Mr. Smith was no longer physically able to perform plumbing work and awarded him damages for past and future loss of plumbing income in accordance with his plan. The Court also accepted medical opinion that Mr. Smith’s condition would likely deteriorate in awarding him two years’ salary as a firefighter for risk of early retirement.
The Court rejected ICBC’s attack on the Mr. Smith and his spouse’s credibility and reliability, ultimately finding that Mr. Smith understated the extent and impact of his injuries.
The Court awarded Mr. Smith $1,202,952 in total compensation.
The full reasons for judgment can be found here.