B.C. dirtbike rider awarded $1.3 million after ‘horrific’ crash on private property

A decision was rendered in Vernon. Google Maps

A B.C. man who suffered catastrophic physical and psychological damage after a 2018 dirtbike crash on a rural North Okanagan property has been awarded $1.3 million.

Cody Jackson, then 26, was riding his dirtbike on unpaved road near his parents’ property in Mara, B.C., on May 16, 2018, when he hit a metal chain that had been strung across the road between a telephone pole and a large tree, according to a B.C. Supreme Court decision posted online Monday.

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“The chain was a heavy metal link chain, grey in colour, which would have been all but invisible to the plaintiff,” Justice Frits Verhoeven wrote in the decision.

“Fortunately, when he struck the chain, he was upright, standing on the motorcycle. The collision with the chain resulted in both arms being broken, a shattered pelvis, a cracked eye socket, a concussion, and nerve damage to his right leg. Had he been seated, the accident could have been fatal.”

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Defendant Adam Lindsay, who did not attend the trial, was found liable before damages were awarded.  He was the “occupier” and later the owner of the property where the road was and Verhoeven had to determine both liability and damages in absentia of Lindsay, according to the court decision.

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As such, no details about why the chain was there were made clear in the decision.

What’s laid out, however, is Jackson’s experience from the moment he was injured and how those injuries shaped his life, largely for the worse.

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Jackson underwent surgeries for both arms and his pelvis fractures and remained in hospital for rehabilitation for more than two months. When he returned home, life was far from ideal, Verhoeven explained.

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“When the accident happened, Mr. Jackson was 26 years of age and in exceptionally good health. He worked as a journeyman crane operator,” Verhoeven wrote.

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“The accident left him with substantial permanent injuries to his arms, hips, right leg and ankle, and muscle weakness. It has also affected his cognition, mood, and personality.”

A doctor called upon in the trial described Jackson’s pelvic fractures as significant and complex.

“There is a high probability that his symptoms will worsen with time, due to the progression of post-traumatic osteoarthritic changes in his hips,” reads the decision.

Read more: One man dead after dirt bike crash in Lavington, Vernon RCMP investigating

A sciatic nerve injury is also proving to be permanent. Both, the judge said, will likely affect his long-term employment.

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He also suffered memory loss and his mood is seemingly permanently altered.

“The plaintiff’s father described him as previously happy. He is now isolated, distant, and difficult to communicate with,” Verhoeven wrote.

“His mother states that he is not quite the same person he was. He is distant, withdrawn, easily overwhelmed, has difficulty making decisions, has trouble prioritizing, has difficulty making commitments, and is generally sad, compared to the way he was before the accident. He is less positive about life in general. His relationship ended, and he is less committed to his career and future plans.”

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Taking into account his physical issues past, present and future, and how that affected his ability to engage in his own life and earn money, Verhoeven landed on the figure of $1.3 million.

Broken down further, that’s $190,000 for past loss of earning capacity, another $800,000 for loss of future earning capacity, $200,000 for non-pecuniary damages, $158,167 for costs of future care and $5,449.88 for special damages.

“Jackson has endured and continues to endure a very great amount of pain and suffering. The accident itself was horrific,” Verhoeven wrote.

“He was hospitalized for more than two months. He then went through a long period of rehabilitation. There is a high probability of future treatments and surgical procedures being necessary…. (he) has carried on with his life and his responsibilities through sheer grit, perseverance, stubbornness, and necessity.”

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Verhoeven surmised that Jackson’s primary method of managing his symptoms has been activity modification and avoidance.

“He faces a lifetime of chronic pain and physical limitations that will likely increase over time” he wrote.

In addition to Jackson gaining compensation, the province has also been awarded damages for his medical care.

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