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Court awards B.C. man $1.5M after life-changing car accident

The accident left the man with chronic physical injuries at a time that would have been "the prime of his life," ruled the judge.
B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

A B.C. man has been awarded $1.5 million in a judgment stemming from a car accident in Port Moody over four years ago. 

In his Oct. 18 decision, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Nigel Kent said Neil MacKinnon was driving from his North Vancouver home to his Port Moody workplace when a vehicle driven by Lois Della Swanson struck him.

MacKinnon, 38, had been waiting behind another vehicle to turn left.

Kent said the force of the impact pushed MacKinnon’s vehicle into the vehicle in front of him.

The estimated cost of repairing his vehicle was about $6,750, an amount exceeding its value. After the May 2018 collision, ICBC wrote off the car.

Presiding over the case from a New Westminster court room, Kent found Swanson liable for the accident.

MacKinnon, a father of one with his wife expecting another child, was a senior infrastructure and engineering technologist with the City of Port Moody and pursuing education to further his prospects.

“The injuries sustained in the accident put an end to that ambition,” Kent said.

After the accident, MacKinnon felt dazed and confused, and “had throbbing headaches.” Since the accident, he has sought treatment for chronic pain.

“He is unable to concentrate for any period of time and often lacks the ability to focus. He is irritable, anxious and stressed,” Kent said.

“He has developed driving anxiety. He cannot actively play with his children for any length of time, nor can he tolerate excessive noise or crowds of people. His mood is often depressed and his self-esteem is low. He says he ‘basically has no social life.’”

Eventually, MacKinnon found himself unable to work and moved to Powell River.

In early 2022, MacKinnon developed an alarming “shaking” condition that continues to this day.

He told the court he doesn’t believe he is giving his wife the support she needs with their children and is unsure if he will ever return to work.

“Just like her husband’s life, Mrs. MacKinnon’s day‑to‑day existence has also radically changed,” Kent, said, adding the strain on their relationship is “significant.”

“But for the accident, Mr. MacKinnon would almost certainly have been in the prime of his life, happily married with two active children whose company he enjoyed very much, permanent employment that he found intellectually rewarding, social and family relationships that were long-standing and of tremendous importance, and an active lifestyle involving physical fitness and particularly hockey which would probably have been a lifetime undertaking,” Kent said. “All of this is been radically changed by the accident.”

Kent awarded MacKinnon $1.176 million for loss of future earning capacity, $180,000 in non-pecuniary damages, $178,000 for loss of earning capacity in the past, and $13,817 in special damages.

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