Plaintiff awarded $100,000 in punitive damages following a hit and run accident.


The courts awarded a plaintiff $100,000 following a hit and run accident. Firstly, it should be noted that awards for punitive damages are relatively rare, and usually only occur in cases involving relatively extreme conduct.  Generally, punitive damages awards are reserved for wrongful acts that are so “malicious and outrageous that they are deserving of punishment on their own”.

In this case, a pedestrian was jaywalking when a vehicle crossed the yellow line and struck them on their left side. The pedestrian had been looking to their right, as that was the direction traffic in her lane was actually coming from. The driver continued driving. He later denied being the driver of his vehicle or that his vehicle was involved in the incident, despite a slew of witnesses and evidence that showed otherwise.

The judge decided that the driver’s actions were “worthy of denunciation and retribution” beyond the compensatory award for injury. The driver had not only failed to stop after striking a pedestrian and been dishonest about their involvement in the accident, but also had been driving while their driver’s license was suspended.

This was a tragic case that involved a young woman who suffered significant injuries, including a head injury and a fractured skull. This incident was made worse by the actions of a driver who refused to take responsibility for their actions.

When should you treat your injuries from a motor vehicle collision?

The simple answer is as soon as possible. If you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is very important to get your health care providers involved immediately. Health care providers – such as qualified doctors, physiotherapists, and massage therapists – can not only help you recover from your injuries faster, but may be vital to potential personal injury claims.

In a recent supreme court of British Columbia case, lawyers hired by ICBC to represent the defendants tried to advance the argument that a plaintiff’s failure to begin an active rehabilitation program in a timely manner should result in them receiving a smaller award. In this particular case, the plaintiff had waited over a year before beginning an active rehabilitation program:

The failure to seek proper medical treatment and minimize damages is referred to as a failure to “mitigate”. The judge sided against ICBC and the defendants stating:

  1. The standard is one of reasonableness and not perfection. A mere delay in seeking treatment alone is not sufficient to prove a failure to mitigate.
  2. It is up to the defendants to prove that a plaintiff could have reduced their losses by seeking earlier or further treatment.

This case illustrates the importance of seeking proper medical advice and complying with that advice. As a personal injury lawyer, I always recommend that my clients seek proper medical advice and can refer clients to experienced experts. However, only medical experts have the expertise to recommend proper treatment.