Tag: Pedestrian Collisions

Pedestrian Struck in Crosswalk on "Dark and Rainy" Night Not Contributorily Negligent

Adding to this site’s archived cases discussing fault for pedestrian collisions, reasons for judgement were released recently addressing contributory negligence of a pedestrian struck in a marked crosswalk.
In the recent case (Bulatovic v. Siebert) the Plaintiff was struck while crossing Granville Avenue in Vancouver.  She had passed the midway point of the street when struck by the Defendant who was making a left hand turn.

Although there was contradictory evidence about the circumstances of the crash the Court ultimately found that the Plaintiff lawfully entered the crosswalk with a walk signal in her favour and that there was no evidence of contributory negligence.  In finding the Plaintiff faultless for the collision Mr. Justice Steeves provided the following reasons:
[82]         More generally, the reason for the legal protection of pedestrians in crosswalks is the significant inequality in speed and force between a motor vehicle and a pedestrian. A pedestrian is entitled to walk through a crosswalk, taking reasonable precautions consistent with having the right of way, knowing that she is safe. I find that the plaintiff took those precautions and she is entitled to the legal protection of having the right of way under section 132(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act.
[83]         I also adopt the comments of a previous judgement (Hooper v. Nair, 2009 BCSC 862 at para. 32),
I accept the plaintiff’s submission that in order to prove that a plaintiff pedestrian was contributorily negligent, the defendant driver bears the onus of establishing not only inadequate attention on the part of the pedestrian but also must show that by the time the pedestrian realized the driver was not going to yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian, that it would at that point have been possible for the pedestrian to avoid the driver’s car. As well, the driver must show that a reasonable person in the circumstances of the pedestrian would have taken and succeeded in actions which would have avoided impact with the driver’s car:  Olesik v. Mackin (23 February 1987), Vancouver B860365 (S.C.); Pinto v. Rana, [1993] B.C.J. No. 1312 (S.C.).
[84]         I find that the plaintiff stepped into the crosswalk on Granville Avenue, going south, when the pedestrian signal said “Walk”. I accept her evidence that she pushed the button that controlled the pedestrian light and she waited for it to turn to “Walk”. Again, her evidence on this point was not directly challenged. The evidence and submissions that the plaintiff took inadequate attention or could have somehow avoided the accident are not, in my view, persuasive. More persuasive, is the defendant’s evidence that he could have looked to his left in order to see the plaintiff.
[85]         It follows from Section 132(1) and my findings above that the plaintiff entered the crosswalk with a “Walk” signal, that she had the right of way over all vehicles, including the defendant. It also follows that the defendant was negligent in not looking for pedestrians in the crosswalk when he made his left turn. To be clear, I do not find that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.

Jaywalking Pedestrian Found 75% at Fault For Collision

Adding to this site’s archived caselaw addressing fault for collisions involving jaywalking pedestrians, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with such an impact.
In last week’c case (Sandhu v. John Doe) the Plaintiff was attempting to cross a four lane road way.  She was not crossing in a designated crosswalk.  The vehicles in the curb land came to a stop and the lead motorist motioned for her to cross.  As she proceeded into the second lane she was struck by the Defendant motorist.
The Plaintiff sued the motorist that struck her and also the motorist that signalled for her to cross.  The Court dismissed the claims against the latter motorist and further found that both the Plaintiff and the motorist that struck her were at fault for the impact.  In assessing 75% of the blame on the Plaintiff Mr. Justice Bowden provided the following reasons:
[18]         In my view, as the plaintiff was not crossing the road in a crosswalk, the plaintiff was required to yield the right of way to Ahmed’s vehicle. At the same time, Ahmed was required to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian on the highway.
[19]         I find that the plaintiff was negligent in attempting to cross the street where there was no crosswalk, marked or unmarked, and, more significantly, by walking into the lane in which the defendant Ahmed was travelling, without looking to determine if a vehicle was approaching before entering that lane.
[20]         The defendant Ahmed was also negligent in passing two stopped vehicles when the possibility of a pedestrian attempting to cross was reasonably apparent, even if he believed that the vehicles were also intending to turn into the mall after they stopped.
[21]         In my view, no liability attaches to John Doe. There is no evidence that the plaintiff made any attempt to locate John Doe. Even if he had been located, the mere act of indicating to the plaintiff to cross in front of his vehicle, in my view, would not attract liability nor relieve the plaintiff of her duty of care…
[25]         Considering the conduct of the plaintiff and the defendant Ahmed and the surrounding circumstances, I have concluded that a reasonable apportionment of liability is 25% to the defendant Ahmed and 75% to the plaintiff.

IPod Not Deemed "A Meaningful Factor" In Pedestrian Collision


Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing the issue of fault for a collision involving a pedestrian who was listening to music on an iPod when he was struck by a transit bus.
In last week’s case (Whelan v. BC Transit) the Plaintiff was injured when a BC Transit Bus ran over his foot.  The parties agreed on the value of the claim but each argued the other was to blame.  The trial proceeded on the issue of fault.
The Plaintiff “was listening to music on his iPod by means of its earbuds” as he was walking on the sidewalk.  He decided to step briefly onto the curb lane of the street in order to walk around other pedestrians.  As he did so he was struck from behind by a BC Transit bus which was leaving the curbside moving forward to merge with traffic.  The Plaintiff “did not hear the bus before it struck him“.
The Court ultimately found both parties were to blame for the impact.  The Plaintiff for stepping out into the street when it was unsafe to do so and without the right of way, the Defendant for failing to see the Plaintiff who was there to be seen.  The Court found the Plaintiff more culpable allocating 60% of the blame to him.  Interestingly the Court did not consider his listening to music and failing to hear the bus to be a significant factor.  In reaching the split of fault Mr. Justice Schultes provided the following reasons:
[72]         As was obvious from my earlier comments in this discussion, Mr. Whelan was himself contributorily negligent in this accident. In addition to his disregard for the bus’s right of way and his needless decision to place himself onto the travelled portion of the roadway simply to avoid a moment’s pause in his progress, he made an assumption that was even less grounded in objective fact than Mr. Kobbero’s — that the driver checking his shoulder meant that the bus would have moved into the left lane before it reached the area where he stepped off the sidewalk.
[73]          I do not find his use of an iPod to be a meaningful factor in this analysis though. His negligent decision to step onto the road was caused by impatience and a faulty assumption about the actions of the bus driver, and not by any reduction in his ability to hear his surrounding environment…
[75]         I would characterize Mr. Kobbero’s lapse of care in conduct as falling more towards the momentary or minor end of the spectrum than towards the extremely careless end. I have found that it was a decision to focus his attention fairly briefly on an admittedly more pressing task, based on the faulty assumption that there were no risks directly ahead of him. This was not the kind of lapse that was inevitably going to cause harm; it required a pedestrian to do one of the foolish things that Mr. Kobbero has been trained to expect in order for that to happen. I conclude that Mr. Kobbero should bear 40% of the liability for this accident.
[76]         Mr. Whelan’s actions conversely, demonstrate a higher degree of carelessness. As a pedestrian he was extremely vulnerable to the oncoming bus and there were no safe circumstances under which he could have stepped on the road with it still moving forward in that curb lane. It was in essence a gamble on things playing out as he assumed they would, with a large downside, fortunately only a small part of which materialized here, to being wrong. Accordingly I fix his liability at 60%.

Driver 25% at Fault for Striking Jaywalking Pedestrian

As previously discussed, having the right of way is not determinative of fault for a collision.  Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, demonstrating this in the context of a pedestrian crash.
In last week’s case (Murdoch v. Biggers) the Plaintiff was crossing Blanshard Street in a marked cross-walk.  She did so against a red light.  There were 3 oncoming through lanes of travel.  The vehicles in the first two lanes stopped for the jaywalking Plaintiff.  The vehicle in the third lane did not stop in time and collided with the Plaintiff resulting in a broken right leg.

The Court found that while the motorist had the right of way they shouldered some of the blame for failing to keep a proper lookout.  In assessing the Plaintiff 75% at fault and the Defendant 25% at fault Madam Justice Power provided the following reasons:
[33] In this case, I do not believe that the defendant exercised the appropriate standard of care to avoid breaching that duty. The drivers in vehicles in the two lanes to her right were able to observe and stop for the plaintiff, and a driver behind her (Ms. Larson) was able to see Ms. Murdoch. Mr. Lukinuk was able to observe that something was happening in his rear-view mirror. In the circumstances, I find that the defendant failed to keep a proper lookout by failing to observe Ms. Murdoch’s entry into the crosswalk and by failing to observe that vehicles in the two lanes to her right had stopped for Ms. Murdoch. I find that if the defendant had in fact been keeping a sufficient look out, she would have been able to stop for Ms. Murdoch and avoid the collision…
[36] In all of the circumstances, I conclude that the 75% of the fault for the accident should be borne by the plaintiff and 25% by the defendant.

Pedestrians, Crosswalks and the Duty To Yield The Right of Way


While Pedestrians are allowed to cross streets in a crosswalk the right is not absolute.  One limitation in section 179 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act addresses pedestrians walking in front of a moving vehicle “that is so close it is impracticable for the driver to yield the right of way“.  In these circumstances a Pedestrian could be faulted for a resulting collision even if they would otherwise have the right of way.  Reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, Nelson Registry, considering this obligation in a personal injury lawsuit.
In yesterday’s case (Cairney v. Miller) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 collision.  The Plaintiff was crossing in a marked cross-walk in Nelson, BC, when he was struck by the Defendant.  As the Defendant was driving she “slowed down to look for a parking spot when she suddenly felt a bump on the left side of her car.”  The Defendant failed to see the Plaintiff and the Court ultimately found the Defendant at fault.
The Defendant went on to argue that the Plaintiff should be held partially at fault because he should have realized she was not yielding the right of way.  Mr. Justice McEwan rejected this argument and provided the following reasons:
[25] Given Mr. Thompson’s evidence, which I accept, the plaintiff was visible in the crosswalk when the defendant’s vehicle crested the hill and entered the intersection. I cannot accept that poor lighting or dark clothing had anything to do with what happened and must infer that the defendant was not paying sufficient attention in the circumstances. The plaintiff did nothing sudden or unusual to cause the collision. He was simply established in the crosswalk while the defendant’s car was approaching.

[26] Mr. Thompson’s evidence differs from that of both the plaintiff and the defendant with respect to speed. Witnesses often differ on the characterization of such matters, and both the plaintiff and the defendant agree that she was proceeding slowly, a factor in the plaintiff’s calculation that he believed the defendant was going to stop.

[27] This is difficult to reconcile with Mr. Thompson’s immediate reaction that there was going to be a collision between the plaintiff and the defendant’s vehicle. The effect of Mr. Thompson’s evidence is that, to him, the defendant’s vehicle appeared to be an immediate and obvious hazard to the plaintiff, because it was going too fast.

[28] I have carefully considered whether the plaintiff’s failure to apprehend that the defendant was not going to yield to him, engaged an obligation to avoid injury to himself that modified his right to the right of way (See Feng v. Graham (1988), 25 B.C.L.R. (2d) 116 (C.A.), cited in Dionne at para. 23 above).

[29] The evidence, taken as a whole, however, suggests that the plaintiff assumed that the defendant would stop in circumstances when it was reasonable to expect she would see him. It is often possible to say in retrospect that had a party paid more attention, he or she might have avoided the collision. In the circumstances here, I think this would impose a standard of more than usual diligence and watchfulness on the plaintiff at odds with his right to be in the crosswalk and the presumption that the plaintiff would abide by the rules of the road.

[30] Accordingly, I find the defendant fully liable for the collision.

Pedestrian Found 30% At fault For Crash for "Cutting the Corner"

(Update February 5, 2012 – the below decision was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal in reasons for judgement released today)
Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing fault between a vehicle and a pedestrian.
In last week’s case (Anderson v. Kozniuk) the Plaintiff was crossing a street in an unmarked crossing.  In the course of crossing he “cut the corner” and walked away from the intersection.  He was walking “briskly“.   At the same time the Defendant motorist was travelling south on 12th Street, she “went through the intersection and hit (the Plaintiff)“.

Madam Justice Russell found both parties at fault with the driver shouldering 70% of the blame.  In coming to this conclusion the Court provided the following reasons:

[69]When a driver approaches a crosswalk where she has some degree of knowledge and experience that pedestrians approaching the bus stop or the grocery store may be crossing, she should take the precaution of maintaining a careful look-out and slightly reducing her speed. The very presence of the marked crosswalk should have been an indication to her of the possible presence of pedestrians in the area. Had Ms. Kozniuk taken these steps, it is possible she would have seen the plaintiff before the last second, when it was too late to avoid him.

[70]Her evidence was that her attention was focused directly ahead on the roadway. While the standard required of a driver is not that of perfection, she ought to have been able to glance to the periphery to check that there were no pedestrians in the roadway.

[71]Mr. Anderson also had the obligation to take care for his own safety in his use of the road that morning. Had he crossed in either the lighted crosswalk or within the informal boundaries of the unmarked crosswalk, it is possible Ms. Kozniuk would have seen him. As well, had he remained in the boundaries of the crosswalk, his journey to the curb on the opposite side of the street would have been shorter and he may have been able to avoid the car entirely. By angling across towards the bus stop, as he did, the plaintiff was on the roadway for a longer period of time than he would otherwise have been the case.

[72]By leaving the crosswalk, the plaintiff was also entering a darker area of the street, thus heightening his own risk as a pedestrian that the oncoming driver might fail to see him. He failed to even glance over his shoulder as he left the confines of the crosswalk to locate the car he had earlier noticed approaching from the north on 12th. His awareness of the presence of an approaching vehicle ought to have alerted him to the necessity of checking its proximity to him…

[75]I find that both parties bear fault in this accident. Ms. Kozniuk had reason to look for pedestrians in the area of the crosswalk and the bus stop and she failed to keep a proper lookout. Therefore, her negligence resulted in hitting the plaintiff.

[76]The plaintiff left the relative safety of the crosswalk to jaywalk towards the bus stop at a quick pace on a dark, wet street without looking over his shoulder to locate the oncoming vehicle which he had earlier noticed as he began crossing. The defendant has satisfied me that the plaintiff’s failure to take care for his own safety was a proximate cause of the accident…

[78]In reviewing the cases put before me by counsel, including Karran v. Anderson, 2009 BCSC 1105, Beauchamp v. Shand, 2004 BCSC 272, Wong-Lai v. Ong, 2011 BCSC 1260, I have determined that the relative degrees of blameworthiness should be as follows: 30% to the plaintiff and 70% to the defendant.

Cyclist 15% At Fault for Crash For Riding in Crosswalk


Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing the issue of fault when a cyclist is struck by a vehicle while riding their bicycle in a marked cross-walk.
In today’s case (Dobre v. Langley) the Plaintiff intended to cross Martin Drive in Surrey, BC.  He approached  a marked cross-walk, activated the pedestrian lights, mounted his bike and began to cycle across the cross-walk.  At the same time the Defendant was driving near the middle lane of Martin Drive.  She “never saw” the Plaintiff prior to impact and was “completely oblivious to his presence until after impact.“.
The court found that while the Plaintiff lost his statutory right of way by riding his bike in a cross-walk the Defendant still owed a duty of care and was in breach of this by driving carelessly.  The Plaintiff was also found 15% at fault for riding in the cross-walk.  Paragraphs 31-49 of the reasons for judgement do a good job discussing the legal principles in play in these types of cases.  In coming to a 85/15 split of fault Mr. Justice Brown provided the following useful comments:
[41] In the circumstances of this case, particularly Mr. Dobre’s decision to ride across the intersection crosswalk, which heightened his duty of care, he either should have waited longer at the curb to ensure the defendant was responding to the pedestrian warning lights, or at least have more carefully monitored the defendant’s approach to ensure he could proceed safely. Had he noticed sooner that the defendant was not reducing her speed, he likely could have gotten completely ahead of harm’s way. Mr. Dobre’s decision to ride his bike across the intersection, and his resulting heightened duty, required at least those simple steps to maximize the chances the defendant was noticing him and to ensure his own safety….

[47] By any fair measure, Mr. Dobre did exercise a considerable degree of care. He stopped at the curb, straddling the bike. He looked west and east. He saw the defendant well to the east. He mistakenly reasoned she was far enough away to give him no reason for concern, especially, he thought, with the warning the flashing lights would give. He mounted the seat. He pedalled across the intersection slowly. When he saw the defendant at the last moment, he pedalled a few hard strokes, almost succeeding in removing himself from harm’s way. Apart from his one glance in either direction before pushing the button, however, he paid no further regard to Ms. Lang’s approach.

[48] In the case at bar, Mr. Dobre, for the reasons stated, owed a heightened duty of care. The defendant, for her part, was approaching a well-marked crosswalk and, in the circumstances, should have been extra vigilant in maintaining a lookout for those who might be approaching or in the crosswalk.

[49] Considering all the circumstances, I find the apportionment that fairly reflects the parties’ relative blameworthiness is an 85/15 split in liability, favouring Mr. Dobre. Mr. Dobre will thus recover 85% of his damages, to which I now turn.

$200,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment in Jay Walking Collision


Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with fault for a collision involving a jaywalking pedestrian.
In last week’s case (Wong-Lai v. Ong) the elderly Plaintiff and her husband where involved in a serious collision in 2009.  It was a dark and rainy Vancouver Autumn evening.  As they crossed the street to return to their car they were struck by a vehicle driven by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff was not in a marked cross-walk at the time.  Her husband died and the Plaintiff suffered severe injuries.
The Court found that while the Plaintiff was jay-walking she should have been visible to the Driver.  The Court found that the driver was not paying sufficient attention and assessed him 25% at fault.  In reaching this conclusion Mr. Justice Sewell provided the following reasons:

[56] I have concluded that Mr. Ong must bear some of the legal responsibility for the accident.  The law is well-settled that a driver of a vehicle owes a duty to keep a proper lookout and to avoid exercising his or her right of way in the face of danger of which he or she was or ought to have been aware.  In some cases the expression used is that that person must avoid dangers of which he or she was aware or which were reasonably apparent.  I do not think that the defendant in this case can avoid liability merely because he did not see Ms. Lai before impact.  The critical question is whether he ought to have seen her or, in other words, whether her presence was reasonably apparent at a point when Mr. Ong could have taken steps to avoid running her down.

[57] Drivers of motor vehicles are not to be held to a standard of perfection.  However I do not think that the possibility that persons may be crossing a highway at a point other than a crosswalk or intersection is so remote that a driver has no duty to take it into account in keeping a lookout.  The evidence in this case persuades me that Mr. Ong was not keeping a proper lookout immediately prior to the accident.  His own evidence is that he was not looking forward.  While it is perfectly permissible and prudent for a driver who is changing lanes to do a shoulder check I think it is also incumbent on such a driver to take the steps necessary to ensure that it is safe for him to do so.

[58] I have also concluded that Mr. Ong was probably concentrating on the manoeuvre of changing lanes and on the parked car in front of him to the exclusion of keeping a proper lookout.  I therefore find that Mr. Ong was negligent and that the defendants must bear some portion of the liability for Ms. Lai’s injuries…

[64] In all of the circumstances I find that Ms. Lai is 75% liable for the accident that occurred and Mr. Ong 25%.  Ms. Lai is therefore entitled to recover 25% of the damages she suffered as a result of this tragic accident.

The Plaintiff’s damages were assessed at just over $307,000.  $200,000 of this assessment were for the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary loss.  In arriving at this figure Mr. Justice Sewell provided the following summary of the Plaintiff’s injuries:

[65] In this case Ms. Lai suffered very grievous injuries. She was struck by a car which I have found to be travelling at close to 60 kilometres per hour.  A good summary of her injuries is found in the report of Dr. Ng.  It is as follows:

1) Gross bleeding from urine requiring emergency urological consultation. A CT cystogram ruled out bladder rupture. Ct scans of the kidneys did not show any severe renal damage and she only required observation and support. However angiogram showed the pelvic fractures has ruptured blood vessels and she had bleeding in the blood supply to the pubic bone and these required embolisation to stop the bleeding.

2] Cervical Cl C2 unstable fracture. This required immobilisation and stabilisation in a collar and traction for the first eight weeks. She also has a moderate central cervical disc protrusion at level C6-7 which indented her cervical spinal cord.

3] Chest contusions left upper lobe, right middle lobe, and multiple rib fractures of the left 3 to 6 ribs and left 8 rib.

4) Multiple pelvic comminuted fractures bilaterally, namely superior and inferior pubic rami. She required immobilisation for her neck and leg fractures as well as for these fractures for the first eight weeks. She remained in the intensive care unit for a few weeks for treatment and stabilisation of all her injuries.

5) The left Tibial and left Fibular fractures require manual reduction and internal fixations on December 1, 2009. She returned to the intensive care unit post operatively.

6) Brain injury, which on CT scan showed multiple bleeding present inside areas of her brain and a small subdural hematoma (within the skull but outside the brain), located in between the cerebral hemispheres. There is a large left scalp hematoma. Her conscious levels and neurological state were monitored in intensive care over the next few weeks

[83] In my view the most important factors in this case are the severe and painful injuries suffered by Ms. Lai, the marked degree of permanent disability, the loss of independence and the increased risk of morbidity and mortality identified in Dr. Guy’s opinion.  I also note that Ms. Lai’s stoicism and determination to make the best of her predicament should not diminish the amount of damages awarded to her.

[84] I have reviewed the numerous decisions on pecuniary damages involving serious injuries cited to me by counsel.  These cases are all of course fact specific.  My review of them, coupled with a consideration of the principles restated in Stapley, leads me to conclude that an award of non pecuniary damages in the amount of $200,000 is appropriate in this case.

Motorist Found 40% At Fault for Striking Jay-Walking Teenager

(Update: The below decision was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal in reasons for judgement dated August 3, 2011)

As I’ve previously written, motorists travelling with the right of way can still be found at fault for a collision in British Columbia.  If you have the right of way but know or ought to know that someone is not yielding you can be found at fault if you fail to take reasonable steps to avoid a collision in these circumstances.  This principle was well demonstrated in reasons for judgement released today by the BC Supreme Court, Kelowna Registry.
In today’s case (Walter v. Plummer) the 16 year old pedestrian Plaintiff was struck by the Defendant’s motorcycle.  The Plaintiff was jaywalking at the time of the collision.  The Plaintiff crossed in front of a stopped tractor trailer and stepped into the Defendant’s lane of travel.  This made it difficult to see the Plaintiff.  The Defendant was not speeding.  Despite this the Defendant was found partially at fault for the crash for failing to take reasonable care in all of the circumstances leading up to the crash.
The Court concluded that the Defendant was careless because she ought to have anticipated jaywalkers at the time and could have taken greater care in operating her motorcycle.  Mr. Justice Barrow provided the following useful summary in explaining why both parties were at fault for this crash:

[25] I am satisfied that Mr. Walter was crossing the street at a casual walking pace, neither particularly fast nor particularly slow. Ms. Plummer was travelling approximately one to two feet to the left of the mid-point of the southbound right turn lane. She saw Mr. Walter for the first time when he emerged from in front of the tractor-trailer truck and walked into her path of travel.

[26]         Based on Dr. Toor’s and Ms. Plummer’s evidence, I am satisfied that the point of impact between Mr. Walter and Ms. Plummer’s motorcycle was two or three feet into the right turn lane and that Mr. Walter was visible to Ms. Plummer for perhaps two more feet as he passed from in front of the tractor-trailer truck to the boundary of the right turn lane…

[41]         There are several significant features of the circumstances facing Ms. Plummer that serve to elevate the degree of care required.

[42]         The first is the reasonably foreseeable risk of jaywalking pedestrians. The defendant was aware that students frequently jaywalked across Rutland Road. Ms. White said that, in her experience, there were many jaywalking students in that area shortly after the schools are dismissed. Further, the risk was not just of any jaywalking pedestrians but of students. The fact that the foreseeable pedestrians would be students is significant because young people may take less care for their own safety than adults.

[43]         A second and related circumstance is that Ms. Plummer knew that the northbound lane was empty and that the vehicles in the left turn and through southbound lanes were stopped. The prospect of students jaywalking in that situation is higher than it would be if there was traffic moving in both directions.

[44]         Finally, and significantly, Ms. Plummer was passing a tractor-trailer unit stopped in the through lane. That truck entirely obstructed her view of the through lane in front of it. If there were pedestrians attempting to cross, it would have been apparent to her that she would not be able to see them.

[45]         All of these features serve elevate the degree of caution necessary to meet the standard of care. To proceed at 40 kilometres per hour passing a stationary truck in an area known to be frequented by jaywalking students is negligent. It is a situation in which a driver ought to have been proceeding in an “alerted” state, to borrow from the categories used in the perception-response studies.

[46]         As to Mr. Walter, he owed a duty to take reasonable care for his own safety. He breached that duty in a number of ways. He crossed other than at a marked crosswalk, and thus contrary to the statutory obligations he was under. Further, just as it should have been apparent to Ms. Plummer that she could not see crossing pedestrians, it ought to have been apparent to Mr. Walter that he could not see oncoming traffic. Finally, and most significantly, unlike Ms. Plummer who was looking where she was going, Mr. Walter did not look into the oncoming lane at all to determine if he could safely cross. His negligence is greater than that of Ms. Plummer. I apportion liability 60 percent to Mr. Walter and 40 percent to Ms. Plummer.

$35,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Chronic Low Back Pain With Poor Prognosis

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, awarding a Plaintiff just over $64,000 in total damages as a result of BC car crash.
In this week’s case (Elgood v. Ellison) the Plaintiff was injured in 2006 when he was struck by a vehicle in Langley, BC.  The Plaintiff was walking in a marked cross-walk with the right of way when the Defendant driver made a left hand turn and struck the Plaintiff.  Fault was admitted and the trial focused solely on the value of the Plaintiff’s claim.
The Plaintiff suffered minor injuries to his legs and neck which quickly and fully recovered.  His most serious symptom was low back pain which persisted from the time of the accident through trial.   The evidence accepted by the Court was that the Plaintiff had mechanical pain around the lumbar spine and that these symptoms may be an ongoing problem for the Plaintiff.
(highlighted portion of illustration depicts the lumbar spine)
In awarding the 65 year old Plaintiff $35,000 for his non-pecuniary damages Mr. Justice Bracken made the following notable findings:

[39]        Dr. Hirsch concluded that the plaintiff has made a full recovery with respect to his legs and that he had a relatively minor neck injury that has now essentially resolved.

[40]        The more difficult problem is the lower lumbar spine area and Dr. Hirsch said that this condition was likely caused by the accident.  He described it as likely mechanical in nature and that it is exacerbated by stress or loading on the back.  He believes that the plaintiff should continue his home-based exercise program and perhaps attend for structured appointments with a kinesiologist or physiotherapist.  He also thought that some exercise such as tai chi, yoga, pilates or water-based exercises would be helpful.

[41]        He concluded that the plaintiff’s restrictions were attributable to chronic low back pain that was caused by the accident and that the prognosis for complete recovery was guarded given the plaintiff’s age and the duration of the symptoms.

[42]        He did believe that the plaintiff should be capable of performing his domestic chores but that he may have to pace himself and that he will have ongoing problems with more strenuous activities such as lifting, snow shovelling or completing significant household repairs.  He did not foresee any need for future care or for any surgery.

[43]        In summary, it appears that the plaintiff’s leg and shoulder injuries resolved very quickly and his neck pain diminished gradually over time, to the point where it is now only occasional pain and of a non-debilitating nature.  He had some early headaches which have now become occasional.

[44]        The significant pain that the plaintiff suffers is chronic low back pain that Dr. Hirsch predicts will likely be with him for the foreseeable future.  No doubt the low back pain will prevent him from doing many jobs, particularly those that require long periods of sitting.  Given his age and background, it is most likely that sedentary jobs will most likely be what are available to him.  He has sharply reduced his recreation, although some of the intense recreational and physical activities engaged in by the plaintiff would likely diminish in intensity over time due to the normal aging process regardless of his injury.  He will likely still have the ability to engage in mild recreational activities. The plaintiff says that even mild recreation or physical activity is too painful for him.

[45]        As Dr. Hirsch pointed out at p. 6 of his January 20, 2009 report:

Three years have elapsed since Mr. Elgood suffered his low back injury in the subject motor vehicle accident.  Given the duration of his symptoms, the prognosis regarding complete resolution of his low back pain has to be viewed as guarded at this juncture.  Given the temporal profile to date, I would consider it more likely than not that Mr. Elgood will experience low back pain indefinitely.  Low back symptoms of sufficient intensity will probably limit his ability to perform tasks which biomechanically stress his low back…

[51] While the plaintiff has been able to carry on with work, he and his wife both said that he has only been able to do so by enduring a level of chronic pain.  Based on the opinion of Dr. Hirsch, which I accept, his condition is not likely to be alleviated over time.  Bearing in mind his age and the impact of his injuries on his personal life and work life since the accident, in my view, the range of damages is between that of the plaintiff and defendant and I assess general damages at $35,000.

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
Erik’s Philosophy

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