Judge awards $536,587.00 to Plaintiff who was unable to continue in her “dream job” as a haul-truck driver. LH v. WH 2021 BCSC 46
The Reasons for Judgment of The Honourable Madam Justice E. McDonald were given in Vancouver, BC on January 13, 2021.
The Plaintiff, LH, was 54 years of age at the time of trial. She was involved in two motor vehicle collisions. The first was on April 19, 2016, and the second on May 27, 2016. The defendants have admitted liability and there is no allegation of contributory negligence or failure to mitigate. Ms. H suffered soft tissue injuries including neck and upper back pain, lower back pain, occasionally radiating down her legs, headaches and depression. However, the defendants say that Ms. H’s injuries, including lower back pain, were resolved by the end of 2017 and her current complaints are unrelated to the accidents. Ms. H claims that, as a result of the collision, she has been left with chronic pain and depression. In addition, as a result of her injuries, she has had to give up her “dream job” of driving a haul-truck and the possibility of advancement to dozer-loader-grader operator “DLG operator”.
Expert opinions regarding Ms. H’s injures and her functional capacity were provided by Dr. Tony Giantomaso, Physiatrist and Dr. Paul Latimer, the Psychiatrist. Dr. Giantomaso opined that all of Ms. H’s injuries were caused by the motor vehicle accidents and he concluded that ”given the passage of time, Ms. H would continue to experience chronic pain to some degree into the future” Further, Dr. Latimer diagnosed Ms. H with recurrent Major Depressive Disorder, with one episode following the accidents as having been triggered by the motor vehicle accidents.
Madam Justice McDonald agreed with Dr. Giantomaso and Dr. Latimer stating “After considering all of the evidence, I find that Ms. H has ongoing symptoms from injuries that she sustained in the accidents, namely, chronic pain from lower back strain and depression.”
Madam Justice McDonald found Ms. H to be a credible witness. She states “In my view, Ms. H did not exaggerate her symptoms or her pain and she did her best to describe, in her own words, her experiences.”
“Perhaps the most significant aspect of the loss of enjoyment of life that Ms. H has suffered is the loss of the ability to work at her dream job, driving a haul truck. Ms. H’s testimony regarding her pride and enjoyment working as a haul-truck driver was persuasive and, in my view, highly credible. Ms. H described vividly how she liked her co-workers and enjoyed being part of a team and the whole experience of going to work every day… After Ms. H applied to work as a janitor, she testified poignantly about asking a co-worker to take photos of her standing on the haul truck to keep as a memento of her time driving a haul truck. I find the loss of Ms. H’s identity as a haul-truck driver to be a significant factor in the assessment of non-pecuniary damages.”
Non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $110,000; Past loss of earning capacity – $61,000; Loss of future earning capacity – $295,000; Cost of future care – $66,319; Special damages – $4,268;