Plaintiff awarded $13,050 in damages after jury trial

In reasons for judgment released today, the court in Harder v. Poettcker, 2017 BCSC 312, awarded the plaintiff $13,050 in damages after a jury found him 85% contributorily negligent in a motor vehicle accident.  The plaintiff appealed the jury's finding on liability but that appeal was dismissed.  The court of appeal then directed the matter back to the trial judge for an assessment of damages.  In discussing damages, Mr. Justice Sigurdson said as follows:

[1]             The plaintiff, then 66 years old, was injured on February 3, 2009 when the motor vehicle he was backing out of a parking spot in a shopping mall was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by the defendant.

[2]             The matter was tried by a jury. The jury found the defendant negligent but found the plaintiff to be 85% at fault. On appeal, the Court of Appeal directed the jury verdict on liability to be entered but referred the assessment of damages to me as the trial judge.

[3]             This is the assessment of damages. Given the apportionment of liability the plaintiff is entitled to be compensated for 15% of the damages that I assess.

[83]         I find that the injuries were soft tissue injuries suffered by the plaintiff that largely resolved by trial more than six years after the accident and any continuing discomfort that Mr. Harder suffers is largely related to his pre-existing back problem or his fibromyalgia which I find was not caused by the accident. The discomfort and pain suffered by Mr. Harder during the recovery period was however more significant than otherwise because they occurred to a man with a troublesome back and waxing and waning fibromyalgia. The defendant concedes that there was at least an acute period of discomfort and restricted activity.


[117]     I have concluded that the soft tissue injuries that the plaintiff suffered in the motor vehicle accident had resolved by the time of the trial.

[118]     Because I have concluded that the plaintiff’s injuries from the accident have resolved I make no award to the plaintiff for any sum for cost of future care or loss of future housekeeping capacity.

[119]     Based on the finding of contributory negligence, the plaintiff is entitled to an award of 15% of the damages that I have awarded (general damages of $50,000, loss of housekeeping capacity of $10,000, recovery of monies paid to third parties $15,000, and special damages of $12,000) and that amounts to (15% of $87,000) $13,050.

The full decision can be found here: