A British Columbia woman who’s had a hard time keeping a job and is still being treated years after a crash lied “emphatically and often” about something during a trial – but how much does that matter?
It’s a question a Supreme Court judge was tasked with answering while determining whether the woman was entitled to any damages when she took a driver to court.
The plaintiff and defendant were involved in a crash in 2016.
The defendant and a business also named in the case do not contest that she drove into the Vancouver intersection of Cambie Street and 8th Avenue despite a red light, which is where the plaintiff was struck.
The plaintiff said she never saw the other vehicle, and that it felt like an explosion when the crash happened. Her vehicle was so damaged that it was written off, and she was taken to hospital for treatment, but released a few hours later.
She had some physical and mental health issues over the next few years, and tried several types of treatment including trigger avoidance, pain medication and physiotherapy.
She did go back to work, the court heard, but she was fired from one job, failed to get the next job, took on another for about a year, bounced from that to something else, and by 2019 said her pain was getting worse . She was laid off from another job just a few months after being hired, this time because of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, she said, her symptoms got worse because of disruption of her treatments.
But she got a new job, which she held for only a month before being dismissed. She got another job this spring, which she’s scheduled to be in at least until this month.
At her trial, she told the court that in the years since the collision she’s struggled with psychological issues. Her mother told the court she hasn’t seen her daughter smile or laugh for years.
The plaintiff said she’s still struggling with chronic back and neck pain, even after having breast reduction surgery last year, which she said was a cause of some of her back pain, but a different type.
She’s still being treated for hip and lower back pain, has issues sleeping and struggles with social and household activities, she said. Her headaches are somewhat under control thanks to a combination of Botox and medication, and she’s also taking a range of pills for sleep and pain.
Doctors suspect she had a concussion, although this was diagnosed years later, as well was whiplash, in addition to the problems she’s had with pain and mental health. They told the court she’ll continue to need several types of treatment.
Despite all of that, the plaintiff’s credibility was a major factor in the case.
According to the judge, she had no hesitation about lying “empathically and often” about her credentials.
The judge said the plaintiff “misrepresented” that she had a college diploma several times, and also lied in an application for government benefits.
The judge said too that she lied to medical professionals involved in her care, which she explained as just wanting to “put her best foot forward” and illustrate how competent she was.
“However, she wasn’t putting her best foot forward – she was putting someone else’s foot forward.”
But she did apologize in court and admit she shouldn’t have song.
The judge cited several cases in which plaintiffs have lied, but the defendant actually never contested that causation was established, so the case really just became a matter of how much money the injured plaintiff was entitled to.
A lot of consideration went in to settling on a number, with the judge declining to award some claims, such as meal assistance.
Ultimately, the judge settled on a total of $587,576.95, which includes $50,000 for loss of housekeeping capacity. The bulk of the total is made up of non-pecunciary damages and future cost of care, as well as future loss of income capacity.