BC Supreme Court rules vehicle owner and driver liable for 2011 Chilliwack collision

Tractor-trailer unexpectedly turned right from a left-turn lane, colliding with plaintiff's vehicle

BC Supreme Court rules vehicle owner and driver liable for 2011 Chilliwack collision

The BC Supreme Court found the vehicle owner and driver liable for a 2011 collision in Chilliwack and awarded damages to the plaintiff for injuries impacting her life and earning capacity.

The dispute in Blyschak v Topolewski, 2024 BCSC 739 concerns a motor vehicle accident that took place at the intersection of Mary Street and Hodgins Avenue in Chilliwack, British Columbia on May 8, 2011. The plaintiff, Paula Blyschak, driving a Honda Civic, was involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer driven by Gary Topolewski. The vehicle had a “Metal Jeans Inc.” branding on its side and back. The tractor-trailer unexpectedly turned right from a left-turn lane, colliding with Blyschak's vehicle.

Paula Blyschak alleges that as a result of the accident, she suffered significant damages and holds Topolewski and Metal Jeans jointly and severally liable. Despite this, the defendants contested the liability, claiming that Blyschak was at fault for the collision or at least contributed to it. They also disputed the extent of her alleged damages and losses.

Throughout the legal proceedings, it was established that Topolewski, who is also the CEO and majority shareholder of Metal Jeans, indeed maneuvered the tractor-trailer in a manner that led to the accident. The court found the defendants' counterclaims and defenses unconvincing, particularly their denial of liability and their challenge to the extent of Blyschak's injuries and subsequent losses.

The Supreme Court made several critical findings regarding liability and damages. It was determined that Metal Jeans, not just Topolewski, bore responsibility for the incident due to their ownership and operation of the tractor-trailer. This verdict considered Metal Jeans' broader corporate responsibilities and their direct connection to the event.

Moreover, the court addressed the arguments concerning Blyschak’s damages, concluding that she indeed suffered losses directly attributable to the accident. These included physical injuries and psychological impacts, which have significantly affected her quality of life and capacity to earn a living. The court quantified these losses and awarded damages for non-pecuniary damages, past and future loss of earning capacity, and cost of future care.

In addition to the primary claims, the court awarded special damages to cover medical treatments Blyschak underwent as a direct consequence of the accident. The court also acknowledged a claim under the Health Care Costs Recovery Act, reflecting additional costs to public health care services used by Blyschak.

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