A B.C. Supreme Court Justice has awarded a woman $527,373 in damages for the injuries she suffered when she was hit by a pickup truck while working as a flagger in Quesnel.
In a decision issued May 20, Justice Robert Jenkins found that Phoenix Rea has suffered
diminished earning capacity and ongoing pain and suffering as a result of the Sept. 18, 2016 incident.
In a summary, Jenkins said a then-23-year-old Rea was directing traffic when her supervisor told her she stop a vehicle going through a portion of a construction zone closed to traffic.
During a trial, Rea testified the truck did stop when she held up her sign but when a co-worker approached to take a photo of the licence plate, the driver "“lunged his truck towards me" and struck with the front, driver's side.
Rea recalled lifting her feet so she would not get pulled under the truck. She went up onto the hood and then fell off such that her right arm hit the side view mirror and jarred her neck. She landed on the ground but did not hit her head.
The driver, Daniel Law, then left the scene.
In a response to the notice of claim, Law said he had been pulling out of a parking lot of a restaurant in the 300 block of Anderson Drive where pylons had been placed about seven feet apart, making it tight to get in and out. But he also said restaurant staff had told him the city had ordered that the project not block the restaurant's entrance.
Law said a worker from the project waved at him from across the street and, when he stopped, complained to Law about his use of the entrance.
Assuming it was over a concern about a concrete pour along the curbs, Law said he told the worker the forms had been stripped and that a packer had rolled over them too, such that a half-ton pickup truck would cause no harm.
Law said the worker became "instantly boisterous and flamboyant with his hands." Deciding their differences could not be resolved, Law said he drove onto Anderson and head east to the intersection with Doherty Drive, about a block away. With the worker running behind him and yelling, Law said Rea turned her sign to stop.
"When I could see her efforts to stop me were personal, I decided to go around her," Law said. "It seemed very certain to me the construction worker was interested in beating me up."
He said Rea then blocked the lane and, in response, Law said he moved over and slowed to use a turning lane. When Rea moved in front of her again, Law said he moved over a second time and had slowed down to "walking speed."
Law said he could clearly see his front bumper and tire had passed by her when she "willingly chose" to throw her her arms and sign on the hood. Law said he slowed down even more as Rea "pressed herself away from my vehicle now so that my door mirror might not brush her."
Law then left the scene.
"I stopped just past her long enough to see she was fine and left as I was not interested in dealing with the angry construction worker," said Law who added he had been driving a commercial vehicle for 10 years without incident.
Rea's lawyer, Stefan Wittman said Law did not attend to testify at the actual court proceedings and that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia admitted liability on his behalf.
Following the incident, Rea said her whole body hurt, especially her right shoulder, neck, hip and ribs and in the months that followed, suffered migraine headaches and flashbacks. She attempted to return to work but would flinch as traffic passed her and could no longer help placing the heavier signs.
About a year later, she finally quit after a truck traveled too quickly towards her, causing her to shake, cry and hyperventilate.
In contrast to Law's claim, Jenkins found Rea had been hit by a fast-moving pickup truck and found it fortunate that her injuries were not more serious. Jenkins also recounted a difficult work history in the aftermath and a loss in the quality of her life, noting Rea had been an active person prior to the day in question.
Jenkins awarded Rea $250,000 for future loss of income, $135,000 for non-pecuniary losses, $104,000 for future loss of care, $24,800 for loss of past income and $13,573 in special damages.
Both Law and his employer at the time were named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen