Negligent Drivers – Who Pays?

By Jean H. Oland – Personal Injury Lawyer

Through no fault of your own, you have been injured in a car accident.

You have back and neck injuries.  You recover about 60% from your injuries, but you are still symptomatic.  Your misfortune continues when your injuries are aggravated in a second accident a short time later.

Who pays the damage award for your injuries? The driver of the first vehicle caused the initial injury which would have healed completely if the second accident had not happened.  The driver of the second vehicle would have caused an injury which would have healed if the injury was an isolated incident.  Does each driver pay a portion?

If your injuries are “divisible” that is, simply put, your back is injured in one incident and your neck in another, the court would allocate damages between negligent drivers based on each of those injuries.

The situation is more complex when your injuries are determined to be “indivisible”; that is, injuries that occur because of a combination of causes by more than one negligent driver, each of whom caused or contributed to your neck and back injuries.

Frequently in such cases, the combined effect of your second injury imposed on your initial injury will result in a disproportionately more severe resulting injury than would otherwise have occurred, resulting in higher damages than would otherwise have been awarded.

Supreme Court decisions have affirmed the principle that, once a court determined as a fact that your injuries are “indivisible” and provided you are not partially responsible for your injuries, you are entitled to claim the entire amount of your damage award from any one of the parties who injured you.

This principle applies even though one of the negligent drivers caused more injury than did the other.

The Negligence Act in British Columbia allows negligent drivers to apportion between themselves the amounts each shall pay, but as far as you, the injured plaintiff is concerned, the court does not have to allocate between the defendant drivers what percentage of your injury was caused by each driver.

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