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'Devastating': Pedestrian awarded $1.4M after Vancouver car accident

Annette Nolan was injured on Sept. 23, 2020 while crossing at an unmarked crosswalk in Vancouver.
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“I conclude the defendant is wholly liable for the collision in this case,” the judge wrote.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has awarded $1,468,051 in damages to a woman who suffered life-changing injuries in a 2020 Vancouver accident.

Annette Nolan was injured Sept. 23, 2020 while crossing a street at an unmarked crosswalk at Harwood and Thurlow streets, Justice Murray Blok said in his July 5 decision.

“She was struck by a vehicle driven by the defendant, Pierre Kohl,” Blok said.

“Ms. Nolan's injuries have been life-altering in their effects,” the judge said. “She has gone from being a steadily employed, active and vivacious 37-year-old woman to being an essentially housebound individual with no employment capability and highly uncertain prospects for the future.”

Before impact, Nolan looked to her right, where she saw a blue car in the lane next to her, and a red/burgundy car behind it, the ruling said.

She said the blue car stopped to let her cross.

“She was three quarters of the way across the road when she saw a car hood, red/burgundy in colour, which she described as ‘a flash coming at my leg,’” Blok said. “She was struck at her right hip, which sent her up in the air. She hit the right side of her head as she landed.”

Kohl testified he was driving south on Thurlow. As he approached Harwood Street, he said he saw a car stopped on Thurlow at Harwood. He said he had “no memory of a car in front of me,” meaning in his lane.

He said as he approached the stopped car, Nolan stepped out past the stopped car. He then “jammed on the brakes, slid and hit her.”

Kohl acknowledged it did not occur to him that the blue car had stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross. He argued Nolan failed to take care for her own safety by not pausing at the front of the stopped vehicle and checking to ensure if it was safe to cross.

Blok said he found both Nolan and Kohl to be credible witnesses.

The judge found Nolan had taken reasonable measures to care for her safety.

“I conclude the defendant is wholly liable for the collision in this case,” the judge wrote.

Nolan said she has pain in her hip, ankle and back; severe and constant neck pain; constant headaches; eye pain; noise and light sensitivity, and tinnitus; and dizziness and balance problems.

Blok said Nolan, a UBC finance department senior administrative assistant, has not worked since the accident and her social life is now non-existent.

A psychologist testified Nolan’s “post-accident struggle is compounded by loneliness, social isolation, limited and protracted recovery, medicalization of life, ongoing functional limitations, daily strain, and low levels of local social support.”

A clinical counsellor said Nolan reported problems with forgetfulness, difficulty retaining information, comprehension difficulties, sensory processing difficulties and organizational difficulties.

Other witnesses reported PTSD, anxiety, depressive and sleep disorders and post-concussive syndrome symptoms.

Nolan had sought damages of $5,645,901 while Kohl suggested a top end of $747,239.