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B.C. woman awarded $1.6M in damages after she T-boned car

Michelle Donaldson was injured as her airbag deployed when she hit a car that had pulled onto a highway through Castlegar.
The judge found Holly Grayson's negligence in pulling onto the road on the dark and rainy night caused the accident.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has awarded almost $1.6 million in damages to a Kootenay woman who T-boned a vehicle that pulled out in front of her on a dark and rainy night in 2015.

Justice Bradford Smith accepted that Michelle Donaldson's injuries are “life altering and significantly life limiting,” according to his Sept. 25 decision.

On Nov. 14, 2015, Donaldson was travelling north on Highway 22 in Castlegar. Meanwhile, Holly Grayson pulled out of a McDonald’s drive-thru in an adjacent plaza and waited for the opportunity to cross the northbound lanes before turning left to go south toward Trail.

Court documents state Grayson pulled out, crossed the right northbound lane and as she entered the left northbound lane, Donaldson’s mini van T-boned Grayson’s Hyundai Elantra. Donaldson’s airbag deployed, causing her injuries, Smith said.

“There is no evidence that there was a safe option for her to avoid the collision,” Smith said.

The judge said the manoeuvre Grayson made is not unknown to people in the Castlegar area.

“It required her to cross the two northbound lanes and a centre two-way lane of travel before she reached the point where she could turn left and travel south on Columbia Avenue,” Smith said.

“I conclude it was not safe for her to pull out when she did,” the judge said. “For reasons that Ms. Grayson has not explained and for which there is no other explanatory evidence, she did not see Mrs. Donaldson’s vehicle until she crossed into the lane in which Mrs. Donaldson was travelling. The lack of explanation is only consistent with Ms. Grayson not paying enough attention to whether that lane of travel was clear.”

Donaldson claimed Grayson’s actions in crossing the road when it was unsafe caused her serious physical and psychological injuries, including a mild traumatic brain injury with neurocognitive disorder, noise sensitivity, light sensitivity, vision problems, post-traumatic headaches, inner ear damage, tinnitus, vertigo, chronic pain in her neck, shoulder and back, depression, generalized anxiety disorder and somatoform disorder.

Donaldson claimed her injuries preclude her from engaging in her pre-accident work as a co-owner and manager for sporting goods stores she and her husband own. She's also unable to look for better-paying work outside the family business, she said.

Grayson denied liability and asserted Donaldson contributed to the cause of the accident because she was speeding and could have taken evasive action.

Grayson also disputed that she caused the injuries Donaldson complained of and that the injuries are as severe and long lasting as Donaldson claimed.

However, Smith found Grayson’s negligence in pulling onto the road on the dark and rainy night caused the accident and that she did not prove Donaldson had any liability in the accident.