An Abbotsford pedestrian who was struck by a car while she and her kids were using a crosswalk on a dark and rainy night in 2015 has been awarded almost $574,000 in damages and loss of future wages.
Justice Barbara Norell ruled that Sarbjit Parmar’s damages amounted to about $765,000, but 25 per cent was deducted for Parmar’s liability in the collision, while driver Harold Rink’s role was assessed at 75 per cent.
The decision was rendered Sept. 30 in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack.
The incident took place on the evening of Dec. 17, 2015 at about 7:15 p.m. Parmar, then 41, and her two youngest children – a girl, 11, and a boy, 7 – had attended her son’s holiday concert at South Poplar Elementary, located in the area of Gladwin and Huntingdon roads.
According to court documents, Parmar had parked her vehicle on the north side of Gladwin Road, and needed to cross Huntingdon Road to get to it.
Parmar and her daughter said there was “light rain” at the time, while Rink described the weather as “terrible” with rain mixed with snow, and winds.
The trio walked to the crosswalk, and Parmar “looked both ways for four to five seconds” and saw a vehicle coming from the east, the documents state.
“She did not know, and could not determine how far away the car was, but she thought she could cross the intersection,” the documents state.
Meanwhile, Rink, then 79, who was driving a 2014 Mercedes 250 SUV with his wife as a passenger, described visibility as “terrible” and said he could only see 30 to 40 feet ahead. Reconstruction experts later determined that he would have been going about 45 km/h at the time.
Parmar’s daughter proceeded into the crosswalk first, and Parmar and her son, whose hand she was holding, came next.
Rink said he did not see the latter two until they were directly in front of his vehicle, and he had no time to brake or take evasive action.
Parmar and her son were both struck. Among Parmar’s injuries were a broken left wrist, a broken left shoulder, stitches to the left side of her head, and a broken right leg in two places, requiring two surgeries. She was hospitalized for seven days.
Her son suffered a fracture to his leg.
The court documents state that Parmar endured months of healing, and several medical experts testified in court about her ongoing physical injuries and emotional trauma.
“She cannot stand more than 10-15 minutes or walk more than 20-25 minutes. She can only sit without support for five minutes. She uses a heating pad when sitting and sleeping … Her neck is painful all the time … She can’t drive long periods of time and only drives locally,” the documents state.
They say that Parmar also feels angry and frustrated and cries without reason, and her social life has been impacted.
Just two weeks before the collision, Parmar and her husband had started their own cleaning business. She had worked 17 days straight prior to the accident.
Parmar attempted to return to work in September 2017, but was unable to do most of the hard physical labour nor was she able to do many of the tasks around the house that she used to do.
She also attempted to work as a cashier at a thrift store but could not do the job because there was a lot of walking and standing, and she could not complete her four-hour shifts.
Parmar now volunteers once a week for two hours stocking small boxes, the court documents state.
Parmar’s lawyer argued in court that Rink failed “to keep a proper lookout and yield the right of way” to Parmar when she was already legally in the crosswalk.
Rink’s lawyer argued that Rink could not have seen Parmar because she and her children were wearing dark clothing on a dark and rainy night at a poorly lit intersection. The lawyer said that Parmar “had a duty to take reasonable care for her own safety.”’
Justice Norell agreed that Parmar should not have crossed until she was sure that Rink was slowing down, but said Rink should have exercised more caution.
“There were three pedestrians who were moving across lanes of traffic, in a lit intersection, in a marked sidewalk, in the middle of the lane, with crosswalk warning signs, in a known school zone,” she said.