A truck driver “broken” after a fatal collision with a drunk driver has been awarded $1.6 million in damages by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
The crash occurred over five years ago on August 5th, 2015 northwest of Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. The ruling was decided on December 31st, and announced on January 5th.
According to Truck News, Trucker Alan Whitney Kempton was operating his rig along Ness Lake Road when 19-year-old William Ross Struke crossed the center lane and struck Kempton’s rig head-on, crushing Struke’s car “like an accordion” and killing him instantly.
Although Kempton suffered only minor bruises in the crash, he was deeply affected emotionally and psychologically after the event, affecting every aspect of his life. He attempted to remain in his position as a truck driver for 10 more months following the incident, but was forced to quit due to “deep stress.” Kempton has since been deemed “competitively unemployable” by employment agencies and now lives in what is described as a “semi-hermit state” on a remote Nova Scotia peninsula.
“It has rendered a vital, engaging, hard-working man into a broken and lethargic shell of his former self,” Justice David Crerar wrote.
“The plaintiff had and continues to have recurring nightmares about the accident. Certain sounds, smells, images, or situations serve as triggers, bringing him back to the moment of the accident,” Crerar continued.
“These recollections are often accompanied by an audio hallucination of bone hitting metal, although it is unlikely that he would have in fact heard this sound in the accident.”
“At times he experienced flashbacks to the accident. He sometimes would freeze or ‘black out’ while driving his truck; when he regained focus, his knuckles were strained from gripping the wheel. At times he vomited. Several times, he had panic attacks, and drove his personal vehicle off the road.”
Kempton’s originally sought $2.3M in damages, but was awarded $1.594, with $700,000 of that for loss of future earning capacity.
“I did think that the court was a little lean on his future earning capacity considering he has 20 more years ahead of him,” said David Wallin, Kempton’s lawyer, to CastaNet News.
“Unfortunately, Al had just started with a new job and didn’t have a great earnings track record for the years leading up to the accident, so the judge basically awarded him $700,000 which works out to $32-$35,000 a year for the next 20 years which is considerably less than what most truck drivers make. In fact, it’s somewhere around minimum wage. If you were working at Tim Hortons you’d be making that so disappointed in that number but all in, I thought it was a fair result, for sure.”