Injured Chilliwack woman awarded $219K from distracted driving crashes

Both incidents werecaused by young drivers handling their electronic devices

A Chilliwack woman has been awarded more than $200,000 in damages for suffering two distracted driving crashes in less than two years.

Alexandra Nicole Viola Todoruk of Chilliwack used to enjoy “a physically active life” in her last years of high school where she enjoyed running, skiing and wakeboarding.

But now the 24-year-old Todoruk takes Tylenol daily and suffers headaches most days after she was injured in separate crashes that were both caused by drivers being distracted by their electronic devices.

Todoruk was riding as a passenger in the front seat in both incidents, according to court documents.

In the first crash, the defendant Mark Voronov was changing a song on his iPod on July 14, 2012. He ran a red light, and hit the side of a car in an intersection.

But it was the second once, that had more lasting effects.

Defendant Hayley Jones was speaking on her cell phone on Aug. 15, 2013 as she drove along the Lougheed Highway. Todoruk remembered telling Jones to get off the phone, and that was her last memory as the vehicle in front of them braked suddenly, and they hit it. Both airbags were deployed and the hood crumpled.

Todoruk’s left side hit the console, and she suffered an abrasion to her abdomen.

“She climbed over her friend to exit the vehicle,” according to court documents. “She sat in a state of shock at the accident scene. An ambulance transported her to the hospital on a spinal board.”

Todoruk said she immediately felt pain in her left leg, neck, rib and back. The pain spread to her right shoulder and arm, and then extended to the fingers of her right arm. After a few days she began to feel tension headaches behind her eyes. The headaches were often preceded by a tingling on the right side of her face and pain on the right side of her neck.

READ MORE: First offence will cost $578 for distracted driving

“All of these conditions persist today to various degrees,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice David Crerar said in his ruling Dec. 16. “She suffers headaches most days. These are usually mild but sometimes acute.”

There was no question of liability which had been admitted in both crash incidents. The only question was the amount of damages to be awarded by Justice Crerar.

Of the total $219,000 awarded to Todoruk, her “ loss of future earning” capacity amounted to $120,000 which is $3,000 per year for more than 40 years of employment. There was $80,000 for pain and suffering, and $10,000 for her care in the future.

“That figure is a reasonable reflection of the plaintiff’s limitation in employment prospects, and need for accommodation, due to her injuries, taking into account the limited contingency that her conditions may improve in future,” Justice Crerar said in ruling about the total award. “This figure is if anything conservative given analogous case law concerning female plaintiffs in their mid-20s who suffered chronic soft-tissue injuries to their backs which limited their abilities to sit or lift and who lacked a consistent job history or a clear future earnings trajectory.”

READ MORE: What constitutes distracted driving in B.C.?


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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