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Surrey Personal Injury Firm Explains ICBC Low Velocity Impact Program
Can a human body be compared to a piece of machinery? It can according to ICBC. ICBC developed a policy called the “low velocity impact” (LVI) program which was developed in an attempt to limit the amount of compensation paid to claimants. The LVI program assesses criteria, such as the amount of damage to the vehicles involved in an accident. ICBC can then refuse to pay any compensation to those claiming to be injured as a result of the accident if their findings are that the collision was of low velocity impact
It is extremely important that any victim of a vehicle collision understand that the LVI Program is not the law and does not prevent you from making a claim for damages sustained in a vehicle accident! In ICBC’s classified LVI cases, many claimants will receive a letter with the following type of wording:
The information currently available to ICBC, including the minimal nature of the impact forces in the collision, as well as your physical condition at the time of the accident, has led us to believe that the accident did not result in any compensable injury.
ICBC states that the LVI program simply means that a claimant will likely have to sue for compensation in an LVI classified case and argue why a minor accident has caused him or her injury. ICBC’s theory that the physical state of a vehicle after a collision can determine the extent of the injuries suffered by the victim is greatly questioned in a court of law. The metal and rubber which is mainly the structure of a vehicle is not comparable to the tissues, organs, bones, and blood consisting of the human body. Furthermore, the dent or scratch in a vehicle cannot diagnose a claimant’s objective physical injuries, let alone the internal physical injuries or mental effects he or she may have suffered from the accident. For example, if a person falls on a cement sidewalk and claims s(he) has suffered damage to the lower back, would we believe the person to only have minor or no injury because the sidewalk shows no visible damage? Of course not! In summary, this theory cannot stand in a court of law as you cannot compare two things which are completely different in composition.
The idea that a low velocity impact accident causes only minor injury was tested in Christoffersen v. Howarth 2013 BCSC 144 where a Plaintiff sued for neck and back injuries she sustained in a rear-end collision. Two ICBC investigators classified the accident as minor with only cosmetic damages to both vehicles and estimated a cost of $580 to $650 for repairs. The defendant argued that as there were minimal damages to the vehicles, the Court must be cautious with subjective injury complaints. The Court, however, questioned the idea that minor vehicle damage equals minor injuries to the victims. It concluded at paragraphs 54 and 55: The defendant urges me to draw what she described as the common sense inference that the plaintiff could not have been injured in such a minor collision. Simply put, the defendant argues that the minimal damage speaks for itself and that no other evidence is necessary to show the plaintiff did not sustain any injury.
 This approach has been tried many times before. It was commented upon by Mr. Justice Thackray (as he then was) in Gordon v. Palmer, 1993 CanLII 1318 (BC SC), (1993), 78 B.C.L.R. (2d) 236 (S.C.) at 237 (excerpted in full in 1993 CanLII 1318 (BC SC), 1993 CanLII 1318):
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 of 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.
In the case at bar the limited amount of motor vehicle damage is not, in my opinion, the yardstick by which to measure the extent of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. No evidence was called to substantiate the theory of ‘no physical damage: no injury’. The plaintiff alleged serious back injuries and resultant damages. The extent will be decided on the evidence.
The Court ruled that although it accepted that the collision was relatively minor, causation had been established by the Plaintiff that her injuries were indeed a result of the accident. She was awarded $35,416.40 in damages and entitled to costs. If you have sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident which ICBC has classified as “low velocity impact”, contact one of our personal injury lawyers today via email or toll-free at 1-877-602-9900.
Time is crucial to your claim so act now!