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B.C. woman gets $1.6M in damages; found not responsible for T-bone crash

Judge ruled Michelle Donaldson’s injuries were ‘life altering and significantly life limiting’
Michelle Donaldson and Holly Grayson were involved in a collision in this area of Columbia Avenue in Castlegar on Nov. 14, 2015. Photo: Betsy Kline

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has awarded a Castlegar woman almost $1.6 million in damages stemming from a 2015 vehicle collision.

According to a judgement published by Justice Sharon Matthews on Sept. 25, Michelle Donaldson is entitled to the money because her injuries from the collision were “life altering and significantly life limiting.” The judge also found that the other driver, Holly Grayson, was negligent and responsible for the collision.

On the dark and rainy night of Nov. 14, 2015, Donaldson was travelling north on Columbia Avenue in Castlegar.

Grayson pulled out of the McDonald’s and waited at the junction of the exit lane with Columbia Avenue for the opportunity to cross the northbound lanes before turning left to travel south towards Trail, according to court documents.

When Grayson did exit, she crossed two northbound lanes. As her vehicle was still crossing a lane, her Hyundai Elantra was T-boned by Donaldson’s minivan.

Donaldson’s airbag deployed, causing her injuries.

Donaldson claimed that she suffered 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.

She also claimed injuries prevent her from engaging in her pre-accident work as a co-owner and senior manager for sporting goods stores that she and her husband own, and keep her from looking for better-paying work outside the family business.

Grayson denied liability and claimed that Donaldson contributed to the cause of the accident. She also disputed that she caused Donaldson’s injuries and that those injuries were not as severe and long lasting as claimed.

However, the judge ruled that the accident was caused by “Grayson’s negligence and that she has not proved that any liability should be apportioned to Mrs. Donaldson.”

“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.”

The judge concluded that many of Donaldson’s injuries were caused by the accident, but did not accept the claim that the accident was the cause of a thyroid condition or the sole cause of the onset of menopause.

Donaldson was awarded $665,000 for her future loss of earning capacity, $450,000 for her past loss of earning capacity, $250,000 in non-pecuniary damages, $208,000 for future care and $24,775 in special damages for a total of $1,597,775.

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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