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$1.8M awarded to Penticton woman in lawsuit over Osoyoos head-on crash

The motorcyclist was left with crippling physical and mental injuries that cost her job and pleasures
Scales of justice file photo

A former-Penticton motorcyclist who was hit head-on by a car that crossed the centreline on Highway 3 near Osoyoos in 2018 was awarded $1.8 million for damages and future care.

Carrie Michael sued after suffering serious injuries, including physical injuries that needed multiple surgeries that still left her with limited mobility and ongoing pain, and mental health issues that together forced her to move to Victoria to get better access to medical care and family, according to the judgment filed on April 30.

The physical injuries included dislocation and multiple fractures to her hip, lacerations to her thigh, fractures to her kneecap and tears to the ligaments around the knee, and permanent damage to her sciatic nerve which caused a permanent drop and pain in her foot.

Mentally, she now is forced to live with PTSD and depression, and at night her mind relives the crash, forcing her to take medication to help her get to sleep.

“On a bad day, Ms. Michael struggles to get out of bed,” reads the judgement. “She said these usually happen when she has been unable to sleep the night before and everything seems bleak in the morning. There are days when she simply does not get out of bed and cannot find the energy to move around. She said she is having bad days more frequently now than she used to and attributes it to the feeling of hopelessness she has over her chronic pain, knowing it is not likely to get better.”

Michael was described as very active, having trained to take on marathons and half-marathons after developing diabetes, and an avid hiker and horseback rider who went out regularly with friends or her dogs.

Since the crash, Michael has been unable to return to work as a veterinary technician, and according to the judgment, she will be unlikely able to do so. Her independence and ability to enjoy the things she used to have also been sharply limited.

Prior to the crash, Michael had two dogs that she regularly walked with, and she was forced to give up the younger dog after returning from the hospital due to her inability to provide him with proper exercise, a decision that “devastated her”, according to the judgment.

The older dog was euthanized in 2020 due to Michael being unable to afford treatment for health issues it developed.

Michael also suffered two falls in 2020 that ended up revealing she had a further fracture in her knee that had been missed. The second fall left her stranded for hours and forced her to move to be closer to family.

“When Ms. Michael moved back to Penticton she was still feeling confident she would recover from her injuries. … At that time, she felt that as long as she followed the instructions of her doctors and other therapists she would heal and move on,” reads a part of the judgment. “She felt defeated having to leave Penticton where she had her home and friends and had built a very happy life before the accident.”

It was noted that the main difference between Michael’s and the defence’s position was on the likelihood of her being able to eventually return to work and the amount of future care she would require.

The presiding Justice pointed to the agreed need for psychiatric care for Michael, and the long wait periods for it as well as her experience and training being in a specific field she could no longer work in as evidence of her unlikely returning to even part-time, sedentary work.

The Justice ended up awarding Michael $371,000 in damages, $210,000 in past loss of earnings, $775,000 in future lost earnings, $8,000 in loss of housekeeping capacity, $45,000 for the more than six months of dedicated care provided by her sister after the crash, and $405,000 to the cost of future care.

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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