Canadian court: alcoholism following accident is compensable injury

by Walter Olson on January 22, 2011

After a pedestrian was hit by a truck and suffered a broken elbow and other injuries, he began to drink excessively and developed clinical alcoholism with serious health consequences. Doctors testified that the man’s “pain and mood” following the injury contributed to this development, in combination with genetic predisposition (both his parents were alcoholics). A judge in the province of British Columbia found that the “alcohol abuse was caused by the Accident and that such alcohol abuse was reasonably foreseeable,” so that compensation for it could be recovered as part of the lawsuit. [BC Injury Law]

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Post-Accident Alcoholism is compensable in Canada
02.15.11 at 4:24 pm

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1 Cloudesley Shovell 01.22.11 at 4:58 pm

That opens up a pretty big door through which future plaintiffs will attempt to exploit for all sorts of “reasonably foreseeable” remote consequences.

The judge cited plaintiff’s parents’ alcoholism as a factor in determining that the “thin skull” rule applied to plaintiff’s “genetic predisposition” to alcoholism. I think the judge stretched the foundation of the thin skull rule beyond its breaking point.

2 Richard Underwood 01.23.11 at 8:09 am

I will be interested in the views of other Remedies teachers in American Law Schools. Does “Reasonably forseeable” have any meaning after this? I am thinking this this is a very negative development. On the other hand, I do not teach at one of the elite law schools that are the model for American legal education. – according to Overlawyered anyway.

I must say that I find this blog very helpful. Keep looking for stuff like this. My students appreciate these bits and pieces of the “Real World.”

3 Roger 02.15.11 at 4:26 pm

Nice post and interesting subject. My Boss David M Cantor, a Phoenix AZ DUI Lawyer made a video comment about this case and agrees with how the judge called it. At first glance I agree that this seems excessive, however when you review the case the judge’s ruling makes sense. While I am not a lawyer I just work for one it seems that if I am injured from an accident and that injury leads to me abusing prescription drugs or alcohol then compensation should be paid.

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