Driver found to be at fault for turning left into oncoming traffic

No matter how careful you are while driving, motor vehicle accidents can still occur due to either the actions of others, or a brief lapse in attention or judgment on one’s part. A recent case before the British Columbia Supreme Court underscores the costly consequences of failing to abide by the rules of the road.

The plaintiff was injured while driving in Burnaby, BC on March 22, 2013. He was driving northbound on Nelson Avenue when a vehicle driven by the defendant made a left-hand turn while driving southbound on that same street, causing the two vehicles to collide. The plaintiff commenced an action to recover damages for injuries suffered from the accident. The defendant, meanwhile, denied liability and questioned the extent, nature, and seriousness of the damages, while also arguing the plaintiff failed to mitigate his damages.

The plaintiff’s position and the accident

The plaintiff was in his late 40s and was working as a letter carrier for Canada Post at the time of the accident. He had been in this job since 2011 in an on-call capacity, though he had been on a long-term assignment at the time of the accident. He resumed work after the accident, working normal duties and hours for two weeks before reducing his working hours for six months. In November 2015 he took on a long-term assignment that saw him working just four hours per day. Outside of work he took care of his two sons on a 50% basis (he and their mother were separated) and enjoyed outdoor recreation.

He estimated he was driving between 40-50 kph at the time of the accident. As he approached the intersection he claimed to have not seen the defendant’s car, which was turning left. He said he attempted to break, but was unable to stop in time and the two cars collided. The plaintiff’s car was declared a total loss, while the defendant’s car received $5,585 worth of damages. In addition to his car being written off, the plaintiff testified he felt a big jolt and heard a loud noise, describing it felt like his right ear “blew up and then heard a ringing.”

The defendant’s position

 The defendant, who was driving southbound before turning left across the plaintiff’s lane. He testified that he saw a number of vehicles in the plaintiff’s lane waiting to turn left, and paused for about 15 seconds, turning when he didn’t think any cars would be driving straight through the intersection. He claimed the plaintiff had been in the northbound left-turn lane, but swerved into the lane crossing through the intersection, striking the defendant without applying breaks.

Damages for injures

The case went before the B.C. Superior Court where the judge found both parties’ testimony to be credible, but found the plaintiff’s version of events “much more plausible.” She specifically did not believe the plaintiff pulled out of the turning lane before proceeding through the intersection. The trial judge found that the defendant only entered the intersection after the plaintiff had begun to approach or drive through it, and as a result, the defendant was found 100% liable for the accident.

The plaintiff was awarded $85,000 in damages relating to his injuries, including soft-tissue injuries and a ringing in his ears, known as tinnitus, which he testified caused him anxiety, sleep disruption, as well as an inability to concentrate while at work. Medical experts testified that there was no cure for tinnitus.

Loss of future income

The plaintiff also sought damages related to a his future loss of earning capacity. He had been attempting to acquire a full-time position with Canada Post prior to the accident. While he was still at the top of the waitlist for a full-time job, getting a full-time position would require him to work a number of routes while he waited for a permeant route to become available. He claimed his tinnitus prevented him from doing that. His income as a part-time carrier was $36,111 in 2017. He would have earned $51,000 in a full-time position that same year. The plaintiff sought to recover the differences between the two up to his age of retirement, an amount equaling $243,500.

The defendant argued the plaintiff had worked eight-hour days on occasion in the years following the accident, and that he plaintiff’s injuries do not prevent him from working.

The judge found that the defendant is “entitled to compensation for the cost of future care based on what is reasonably necessary to restore him to his pre-accident condition insofar as that is possible.” The judge did not agree that the plaintiff would be permanently unable to work full-time but recognized some loss of earning following the accident. As a result, the plaintiff was awarded $95,500 for loss of future earning capacity (two years pay at his average salary for his last two years of work).

If you find yourself injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should immediately seek medical attention, even if your injuries seem minor at first. Following that, it is important to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer before accepting a settlement from your insurance company. The exceptional personal injury lawyers at Derfel Injury Law work tirelessly to achieve the best possible results for our clients. Please call us at 416.847.3580 or reach us online to see how we can help you today.