ICBC Argues Injured Plaintiff Should be Paid Less because She’s a Woman

When a young woman is injured in a motor vehicle accident it can have a profound impact on her future career plans and earnings. To add insult to injury, it can be hard to hear ICBC argue that her loss is not as great as that of a man due to the likelihood of her leaving the workforce to have kids.

That is just what ICBC did in the case of Broad v. Clark, 2018 BCSC 1068. In that case, the plaintiff was 23 years old when she was injured in an accident. She had been driving to work in the early morning when the defendant attempted to turn left directly in front of her causing the accident. The plaintiff was transported via ambulance to the hospital and was assessed as suffering from soft tissue injuries to the neck, chest, shoulder, and back. It was later identified that the plaintiff had suffered from several disc bulges in her spine that were resulting in lumps forming along her back and an annular tear resulting in a complex nerve lesion in her spine. The plaintiff was left with debilitating back pain that affected all aspects of her life and rendered her completely unemployable.

Before the accident, the plaintiff had worked as an administrative assistant in two separate office settings and planned to continue working for her current employer indefinitely. The plaintiff contended at trial that she would have continued working until retirement. At the time of trial 5 years after the accident, the plaintiff had two children, ages 10 and 2, respectively. ICBC argued that the plaintiff’s future lost earnings should be reduced based on the assumption that she would have voluntary withdrawn from the workforce or changed to working part-time in order to facilitate child care and meet family demands. ICBC’s argument centred on the fact that the plaintiff was a devoted mother to her children and would have altered her career plans due to that fact.

The court determined that the plaintiff had shown drive and determination pursuing her career prior to the accident, had previously returned to work after the birth of her children, and took pride in the economic independence that came with employment. Furthermore, the plaintiff did not intend to have any further children that would have required a maternity leave. The court determined that it would not be appropriate to make a reduction to her lost earnings based simply upon the fact that she had children. Furthermore, the court felt that reducing her damages due to future potential family choices would be unfair due to the fact that the calculations were based on gender-specific statistics that already reflect reduce earnings for females based on family choices.

In total, the court awarded the plaintiff $1,297,146 for loss of future earning capacity thus refusing to accede to ICBC’s position that her damages should be reduced simply because she was a female with children.

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