Tag: truck accidents

Cyclist Injured In Collision With Cement Truck Loses at BC Court of Appeal


Earlier this month the BC High Court dismissed an appeal by a cyclist who sustained serious injuries when he collided with a cement truck in 2004 (Sivasubramanian v. Franz).
The cyclist was travelling on the right hand shoulder of a roadway.  As he approached an intersection there was a cement truck ahead of him signalling to turn right.  The truck then started its turn and the cyclist collided into the midsection of the truck.  The Plaintiff sued the cement truck driver.  The case was dismissed at trial (you can click here to read my summary of the trial Judge’s findings).
The Plaintiff appealed arguing that the trial judge was wrong to dismiss the claim because the motorist should have seen the cyclist before the collision and should not have turned when he did.  The BC Court of Appeal disagreed and dismissed the case.  In dong so the Court made the following comments:

[24]         In the case at bar, the respondent truck driver was in the midst of a lawful turn to the right from the curb lane when the appellant rode his bicycle heedlessly into the mid-section of the truck. I agree with the trial judge’s conclusion that it would be unreasonable for Mr. Franz to assume that the appellant, or indeed any other user of the highway, would ignore his indication to turn right, and that by the time the appellant reached the intersection, Mr. Franz was well into his turn and could not have avoided the collision.

[25]         The appellant’s submission that he was so close to the intersection as to constitute an immediate hazard to which Mr. Franz had sufficient time to react and take evasive action is not supported by the trial judge’s findings of fact.

[26]         Second, the appellant’s argument that the trial judge erred in finding that even if Mr. Franz had seen the appellant he would have been justified in making the right hand turn is supportable. Given the trial judge’s findings I see no error in her conclusion.

[27]         I would not accede to the appellant’s arguments. Notwithstanding Mr. Thomas’ able submissions, cases such as this are fact-driven. As in Trac v. Sangra (1995), 17 B.C.L.R. (3d) 92, “this is a case that could be won, if at all, only at trial. For us to interfere would require us in effect to retry this case and to take a different view of the facts from that of the trial judge. That we are most reluctant to do.”

[28]         In my opinion, the appeal should be dismissed with costs to the respondents.

This case demonstrates one of the most basic principles in personal injury lawsuits (tort claims); in order to successfully sue for personal injuries the other party must be at least partially at fault otherwise the result will be dismissal at trial.

$75,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Moderate/Severe Post Traumatic Stess Disorder

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court awarding just over $320,000 in damages as a result of a serious BC Truck Accident.
In today’s case (Bonham v. Weir) the Plaintiff was driving a transport truck into Fort Nelson, BC, when another vehicle “crossed the centre line and collided head on with his truck. ”  The Plaintiff’s truck “burst into flames and (the Plaintiff) had to crawl out of the burning cab through a broken windshield.
ICBC admitted fault on behalf of the driver of the other vehicle leaving the court to deal only with an assessment of damages.
Mr. Justice Smith found that while the Plaintiff’s physical injuries were relatively minor and healed within a month or two, the psychological impact of the crash had more lasting and debilitating effects.   In awarding $75,000 for the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages, the court summarized his psychological injuries and their effect on his life as follows:

[25]         Mr. Bonham was involved in a horrific collision which could easily have been fatal for him, as it was for the other driver. Although his minor physical injuries healed quickly, he suffered and continues to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. There is no doubt that his psychological complaints are genuine and that this condition has a very real and severe impact on his life. His personality has changed. He no longer interacts with family and friends as he used to. He has lost confidence in his abilities and lost interest in most of the things he formerly enjoyed. The psychological symptoms persist more than two years after the collision. Although the plaintiff can expect some improvement in his condition, some symptoms are likely to remain indefinitely.

[26]         Non-pecuniary damages must be assessed according to the impact of the injuries on the individual plaintiff. Decisions of the court in other cases are never completely comparable and provide no more than general guidance. However, recent decisions of this court that I have found particularly helpful in identifying a range of damages applicable to this care are:  Leung v. Foo, 2009 BCSC 747; Carpenter v. Whistler Air Services, 2004 BCSC 1510; and Latuszek v. Bell Air Taxi, 2009 BCSC 798.

[27]         Taking into account the differences and similarities between those cases and this one and, most importantly, the evidence of the impact of this plaintiff’s injuries on his life, I find $75,000 to be an appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages.

This case is also worth reviewing for the courts awards of Loss of Future Earning Capacity.
In this case the Plaintiff’s past wage loss was modest up to the time of trial totalling neat $6,000. Notwithstanding this minimal past wage loss the Court awarded significant damages of $225,000 for loss of future earning capacity because of the ongoing impact of the Plaintiff’s PTSD on his ability to work in his own occupation.  Paragraphs 28-42 of this case are worth reviewing for anyone interested in the law of damages in BC relating to future wage loss.

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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.

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