Just Take the Offer!

An unfortunate middle-aged immigrant from Poland was involved in six automobile accidents over the course of five years. Five of these accidents resulted in separate lawsuits however the sixth, a collision with a deer, did not result in litigation.

After the usual litigation steps, the self-represented litigant went to trial in Lethbridge which spanned four weeks. At the conclusion of the action the Judge issued his written reasons awarding the Plaintiff a global amount of $11,500.

In many respects, this case was an unremarkable car crash trial. There were however a few items of note in the Judgment in that the Learned Trial Judge:

  • Found that in Canada there is no inherent right of a civil litigant to a fully translated trial in their mother tongue.
  • Made scathing findings concerning the credibility of the Plaintiff.
  • Found that the Plaintiff’s family doctor and her chiropractor lacked credibility as they acted as advocates for the Plaintiff.
  • In effect ignored the decision of Canada Pension Plan to provide the Plaintiff with disability benefits. However, the Court did reference the Plaintiff’s self-representation before that body in assessing her credibility and skills in communicating in English.
  • Found that three of the five accidents resulted in no damages whatsoever and that, if not remarkable, was quite unusual in this environment.
  • Did not apply the Minor Injury Regulation and instead simply found that the injuries were “very minor” and he came to his own conclusion on damages without reference to the legislation.

However, the most fascinating part of this litigation was the fact that the five Defendants in this case together offered the Plaintiff over $500,000 prior to trial to settle these claims and the Plaintiff was awarded a global $11,500 at trial. At the costs hearing following trial, the Trial Judge awarded the Defendants $325,000. The Plaintiff also has a judgment against her by one of her three former counsel for over $100,000 as well as a judgment against her for almost $40,000 resulting from a high interest rate loan she took against the proceeds of the litigation.

The Plaintiff appealed the decision and in a relatively brief decision the Court of Appeal dismissed the Plaintiff’s appeal and further costs have been awarded to the Defendants.

Don Dear, Q.C. and Sue Remmer, both of McLennan Ross, represented four of the five defendants at trial and represented all five defendants before the Court of Appeal.