In the recently published case of Hough v. Wyatt, 2011 BCSC 910, the plaintiff was awarded modest damages for injuries arising out of a motor vehicle accident in March 2009. In that accident the plaintiff injured his right wrist, knee, neck and lower back. However, the plaintiff had a long history of medical problems and the court found that his only new injury was the injury to his wrist. Expert medical evidence tendered at trial showed that the plaintiff’s wrist should have healed within two years. The plaintiff was awarded $15,000 in damages for pain and suffering. He was awarded nothing for past wage loss and loss of earning capacity, despite seeking $280,000 of loss under that head of damages.
Madam Justice Stomberg-Stein noted the following in her judgement:
 Mr. Hough was a very difficult witness. He is a poor historian, which is understandable given his extensive medical history. However, he bears the burden of proof. He was argumentative, abrasive, sometimes rude, often unresponsive, and many times inconsistent in his evidence. Mr. Hough clearly demonstrates an attitude of entitlement to insurance benefits, at one point indicating he doesn’t understand the problem here, it is only insurance money. He reports everything, no matter how inconsequential, even a broken fingernail, so if there is a problem in the future, he can get compensation. The trouble for Mr. Hough is he was a medical disaster before the accident, and the defendant is not obliged to pay for all that ails him or ailed him. Mr. Hough’s pre-existing medical condition, his original position, as outlined in the evidence of Dr. Waiz, and what Mr. Hough can recall, would have manifested debilitating effects in any event, regardless of the accident. His original condition would have detrimentally affected him even absent the defendant’s negligence. The defendant is not required to compensate him for debilitating effects not caused by the accident.
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