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Court awards B.C. woman $1.24M for Chilliwack accident

Malgorzata Tomanik was on Highway 1 when a truck cut her off from the right, prompting her to stop her vehicle to avoid running under the truck. 
New Westminster courthouse.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has awarded a B.C. woman $1.24 million in damages in the wake of a May 2018 Chilliwack accident she said left her “competitively unemployable.”

Malgorzata Tomanik was driving from her home to Chilliwack for a work-related training event on May 30, 2018, Justice Murray Blok said in his Aug. 29 decision.

She was travelling in the left lane of Highway 1 when a truck cut her off from the right, prompting her to stop her vehicle to avoid running under the truck. 

“Her vehicle was then struck from the rear,“ said Blok, who heard the case in New Westminster. “She said the force of the impact propelled her car forward and her body was sent forward and then backward.”

She was wearing her seatbelt and did not hit anything in her car.

Youri Brunet was the defendant in the case.

She reported injuries including constant pain in her neck and shoulders, including the top of her shoulders and shoulder blades; constant pain in her mid and low back; pain in her left hip and the top of her right hip; frequent pain in both feet; “very strong” headaches; an “issue” with her jaw; and pressure and tightness around her nose and ears.

“I accept that these injuries, limitations and psychological effects have affected every area of her life in a profound way,” Blok said.

"I conclude that the plaintiff’s condition is likely permanent, or at least is very long-term.”

As well, she suffers from depressed mood; anxiety and worry about her condition; sleep difficulties; and difficulty regulating her emotions in the sense that she overreacts to social situations. 

She had studied nursing at Poland’s University of Szczecin and pursued a master’s degree in education, which she obtained in 1990.

While she was doing that, Poland was experiencing political turmoil. Her husband was politically active and feared for his safety, and so he left Poland for West Germany in 1987, leaving her to complete her studies. She joined him in West Germany in 1990. From there, they applied to immigrate to Canada.

In B.C., she had been working at different child development centres.

She began her own business in 2012 and had begun a PhD program to improve her professional credentials.

After the accident, however, Tomanik found work activities increasingly difficult.

“The work tasks that created the most difficulty for her were computer work, sitting, driving and carrying things,” Blok said. “The computer work, in particular, caused neck and shoulder pain.”

Her abilities to hike or travel have been constrained as a result of her injuries, the ruling stated.

Tomanik claimed $1.45 million to $1.7 million while the defence suggested $421,065.