In this highway truck accident injury claim (Harrington v. Sangha, 2011 BCSC 1035) the at fault driver lost control of a tractor trailer he was driving north on Highway 97 at an “S” turn in the highway, near Sales Road, about 20 km south of Quesnel. He felt his truck slide across the road as the trailer swung around the tractor. As this occurred another truck driver was approaching the same location driving a tractor trailer south, toward Williams Lake. When he saw the truck sliding sideways across the road he intentionally drove his truck off the west side of the road into a ditch and snowbank and the vehicles missed each other narrowly.
At that exact moment the injury claimant was approaching the scene from the south, driving toward Quesnel. The second trailer swung across the road into her line of travel and hit the front of her car, crushing the front and roof of the vehicle and causing her severe personal injuries.
The claimant suffered an injury to her left brachial plexus and is left with very little movement of the left shoulder and is unable to lift her left arm at the shoulder. She also suffered a traumatic brain injury that affects her cognition. She is irritable and disinhibited. Her memory and concentration are poor. She suffers chronic pain, for which she requires significant medication. At the time of the trial the injury claimant was totally unemployable.
The truck driver that lost control admitted his liability for the accident. The claimant herself led no evidence of the negligence of the other drivers but relied upon the allegations made by the at fault driver. He said the accident was contributed to by the negligence of the other truck in failing to drive with due care and attention, or the negligence of the company responsible for maintenance of the road at the location of the accident or the Province of British Columbia, the party with the statutory obligation to maintain the highway.
the claims against the Province and other driver were dissmissed and the claimant was not found to be contributorily negligent for the accident. As the the trial judge stated,
“ The issue in the case is not whether the condition of the roadway caused or contributed to the accident but, rather, whether the road conditions that caused the accident were a result of the breach of the standard of care. The drivers all knew that they were travelling in winter conditions and that road conditions were subject to change without warning and quickly. The standard to be imposed upon the contractor is not a standard of perfection but, at most, that set out in its contract. I cannot find in the evidence before me that there was a breach of the contract or a failure to comply with any of its significant terms. To the contrary, it appears that HMC maintained the road to a standard higher than that required by the contract with the Crown. I cannot find that there was a breach of the duty of care owed to the public by HMC nor is there evidence that but for the breach of the contract the road would have been in such a condition that the accident would not have occurred.
 In the case at bar, as in Dagneault and in Brown, the policy decisions reflected in the maintenance contract adequately recognise the hazards of winter driving conditions and it cannot be said that the contractor was negligent in the manner in which it carried out the operational functions delegated to it.
 I cannot find the Crown liable either directly for breach of a duty owed to users of the public highways or vicariously, as there is no evidence of an error or omission on the part of its contractor.”
The judge went on to award $210,00 for pain and suffering and found that, “taking into account both the very significant limitations in her physical activities associated with her brachial plexus injury and the functional impact of her head injury, I am of the view that general damages in this case should be assessed at $210,000.”
The total personal injury award for this truck accident was as follows:
|Pain and suffering
|Past Income Loss
|Future Income Loss
|Cost of Future Care
|52,658 (less adjustment)
|Aids for Daily Living
|Out of pocket expenses
|In Trust Claim
An interesting sub-issue in this case was the allegation that the driver that swerved to avoid the accident was somehow at at fault. The judge was adamant in the dismissal of this claim, “ I am of the view that putting the vehicle into the ditch was a reasonable response…given the imminent threat that he faced. It cannot be said that he was wrong in doing so. Even if it could be said that there were other options available …it would be wrong to impose upon him the standard of perfection, faced with this imminent peril.” by Mr. Renn A. Holness