Hergott: Witnesses knew you before your life-changing crash

The critical witnesses I am referring to are those people in your life before the crash “witnessing” the way you related back then.

Witnesses are critical to car crash cases.

I am not talking about witnesses to the crash, itself. Those can be critical when there is a dispute about what occurred and who was at fault, but the “who is at fault” question comes up in only a small percentage of ICBC claims. I am talking about a different kind of witness.

A personal injury claim is a legal right to fair financial compensation for harms and losses.

With stoic victims struggling to get back to work as quickly as possible, income losses are often very small. Expense for medical care is often no more than $5 to 10,000. The most significant “harms and losses” are often the various ways injuries have an impact on you; impacts that can continue indefinitely.

One impact is the ongoing “experience” of symptoms: waking up every morning with stiff and sore muscles, the headaches, the pain that comes on and gets worse and worse with this or that body position or activity, the fatigue. Even more impactful might be increased irritability, lowered mood, a reduced ability to concentrate or “find words”.

Only you have direct knowledge of this impact. You can describe your “experience” of symptoms to the rest of us, but our ability to really “get it” depends on how capable and descriptive a communicator you are. We might also be distracted by the bias some of us have against ICBC claimants, i.e. that you might be exaggerating to increase the value of your claim.

The other impact is how those symptoms change the way you relate to the world around you; how you live your life. These changes might be dramatic in the case of catastrophic physical injuries and severe brain injuries. Most often, though, these changes are subtle.

There might be subtle changes in how you perform your work duties. Your experience of worsening symptoms from certain postures will lead you to adapt by finding different ways of doing the same things. Those adaptations might make you less productive, but only subtly so. You might enlist the help of co-workers for some job duties that you are not able to adapt to, but your pride and stoicism will lead you to do so as little and as subtly as possible.

There will be changes in your life outside of work. There might be a subtle or not-so-subtle reduction in how often you spend social time with family and friends. When you do, your lowered mood or irritability will manifest itself in the subtle ways you relate to them.

There will be changes in your participation in physical activities as well. Only this or that person in your life will notice that your garden gradually become overrun with weeds or is not planted as extensively or at all. The same goes for subtle or not-so-subtle changes in your participation in walks, hikes, boating, skiing, gardening, and every other activity.

The critical witnesses I am referring to are those people in your life, i.e. the co-workers, family, friends and acquaintances who were there before the crash “witnessing” the way you related back then to the world around you and have been there since the crash to witness the changes.

Those witnesses may not have noted the subtleties as they occurred, but when their minds are put to it are regularly able to provide this critical evidence. Unbiased to the result of your claim, these witnesses are critical to help describe and corroborate your harms and losses.


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