A former Quesnel woman was awarded more than $500,000 in a court ruling after a pickup truck driver deliberately struck her while she was working as a traffic flagger in 2016.
BC Supreme Court Justice Robert Jenkins made the ruling on May 20, awarding Phoenix Rea $527,373 in damages for pain and suffering, medical costs and reduced earning potential. Jenkins ruled in favour of Phoenix on each one of her claims.
In his reasons for judgement, Justice Jenkins said Rea was 23 years old and working as a flagger in Quesnel when she was struck by Daniel Law driving a United Concrete and Gravel pickup truck on September 18, 2016. Law admitted he struck Rea, but asked the judge to award much less in damages.
In a summary of the events, Jenkins said Rea’s supervisor directed her to stop a vehicle coming too fast into the construction zone. Rea testified she had shown the driver a stop sign and he did stop but when a co-worker came to take a picture of the truck’s license plate, the driver “lunged his truck” towards her, hitting her and causing her to go onto the hood of the truck, then fall onto the ground.
“Ms. Rea stated she recalls lifting her feet so she would not get pulled under the truck, she went up onto the hood and was wrenched to her left, fell off the hood such that her right arm hit the side view mirror and ‘jarred her neck,’ and she fell to the ground,” Jenkins wrote in his reasons for judgement. “Ms. Rea stated she fell to the ground ‘like road kill.’”
The driver of the pick-up truck drove away from the scene quickly.
A co-worker testified after the accident Rea began flinching at approaching cars, and quit after a fast-moving truck caused her to hyperventilate and cry.
Rae moved away from Quesnel in 2018, saying she’s had trouble with sleeping, anxiety, headaches and nightmares as well as long-lasting physical injuries.
Rae testified she was an avid runner before the collision, and has not returned to exercising since.
“In assessing the impact of the accident on the health and psychological well-being of Ms. Rea, one must consider her life before the accident, particularly how she was bullied and embarrassed by her peers at a young age due to her weight,” Jenkins wrote. “Ms. Rea determined that she would help herself and went to great lengths to physically and mentally overcome her issues with weight.”
The defense claimed Rea should only be eligible to receive a week’s worth of wages as a flagger, dismissing any reduction in earnings post-collision as not unrelated.
That claim was undone after an expert witness called by the defense, Dr. Mitchell Spivak, agreed on cross-examination Rea’s recent mental health issues were caused at least in part by the collision.
Rea’s family doctor and chiropractor testified the pain she felt from her injuries in the crash are likely to never to go away completely.
“I disagree with the rather dismissive submission of the defendants,” Jenkins wrote. “Ms. Rea clearly continues to suffer from the effects of the accident in a very significant manner and the evidence establishes she is likely to continue to suffer from her injuries for a very considerable period of time into the future.”
Jenkins agreed with Rea’s assertion she suffered a 23.5 per cent loss in future earnings.
Rea was awarded $135,000 in non-pecuniary loss, $24,800 for past loss of income, $250,000 for future loss of income, $104,000 for costs of future care and $13,373 in special damages.
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