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Ex-ICBC examiner awarded $2.2M for Burnaby driving test gone wrong

Heather Boal was injured in a crash during a road test she was administering in 2016. She has now successfully sued the woman taking the test and the man who taught her to drive.

A former ICBC driving examiner has been awarded more than $2.2 million for a driver’s test that went terribly wrong in Burnaby six years ago.

Heather Boal, a four-year ICBC examiner, was conducting a road test on Parker Street on March 10, 2016, when the driver taking the test oversteered while turning left onto Madison Avenue, sending the car toward a vehicle stopped at a stop sign, according a B.C. Supreme Court ruling Tuesday.

“Ms. Boal testified that in response, she instinctively yelled stop, pressed as hard as she could on the passenger side brake pedal, turned in her seat, and reached across and grabbed the steering wheel with her right hand,” stated the ruling. “She said she pulled the wheel hard to the right. She was able to alter the Toyota’s course away from the driver’s door of the other vehicle. The front driver’s side corner of the Toyota collided with the back wheel well of the other vehicle.”

After the accident, Boal directed the driver to return to ICBC by the safest route.

Back at the office, Boal took an Advil and started to complete a form to report the accident but found it difficult to gather her thoughts.

Her father picked her up from work early and drove her home.

Six years after the accident, Boal testified she still suffers from “excruciating migraine headaches,” depression and pain in her neck, shoulder and shoulder blade, according to the ruling.

She attempted a graduated return-to-work program at ICBC but was unable to increase her hours beyond two four-hour shifts a week, and ICBC terminated the program four months in, the ruling said.

Before the accident, Boal had been social and active, according witnesses, but her injuries left her “a shadow of her former dynamic, outgoing self,” unable to perform most household duties, including child care.

Boal sued the driver, Maria Parilla, and the driving instructor who owned the Toyota, Jezer Eriko Lagman, for $2,990,000 for pain and suffering, loss of past income, loss of future income and the cost of her future care, including money for cannabis and Botox treatments for her headaches, homemaking support, fitness passes and Pilates sessions.  

The defendants said Boal should get $936,169.53 minus up to 15 per cent for her own part in the crash.

They admitted they were liable but said Boal should have intervened sooner when she realized Parilla was oversteering onto Madison or should have stopped the road test earlier, since Parilla had actually already failed 20 minutes in, when she oversteered into an oncoming lane of traffic.

But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lisa Warren rejected that claim, saying Parilla and Lagman hadn’t proven Boal’s conduct “fell below the standard of care.”

“The only evidence at all relevant to the standard of care expected of a driving examiner was that of Ms. Boal,” Warren said. “She testified that her conduct throughout Ms. Parilla’s road test was consistent with ICBC policy. In particular, she explained that terminating the test and driving Mr. Lagman’s vehicle back to the office, herself, would have been inconsistent with ICBC policy.”

In the end, Warren awarded Boal $2,237,639.56 and court costs.

“The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that the injuries she sustained in the accident have limited her functional capacity and that the limitations are likely permanent,” Warren said.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
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