Port Coquitlam resident awarded $186K seven years after crash

More than seven years after a crash that left him with chronic pain and anxiety, a Port Coquitlam man was awarded $186,765 in a recently published B.C. Supreme Court decision.

The crash

Jung Won Kim was in the backseat of an SUV on Oct. 12, 2014, being driven to work by his then-employers when they were rear-ended by a Ford Explorer at North Road and Foster Avenue in Coquitlam. The force of the collision sent the SUV forward, causing it to hit another car.

Kim testified that he was carrying a cup of coffee prior to the crash, noted Justice Karen Horsman.

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“The plaintiff recalls that his coffee was suddenly gone, and then he experienced what he described as a brief moment of ‘blacking out,’” Horsman wrote. “The next thing he recalls is the driver in the vehicle in front taking photographs of the scene and attempting to exchange information.

After exchanging information, Kim and his employers continued to the Korean barbecue restaurant where Kim worked as manager.

No police or ambulance were called to the scene, Horsman wrote.

Aftermath

Kim subsequently suffered from nausea and headaches and felt pain in his neck and lower back. He reported constant pain, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety about driving.

Kim left his job at the restaurant at the end of 2017, citing ongoing chronic pain exacerbated by bending over low-to-the-floor tables to serve customers and clear plates, as well as long periods on his feet.

Prior to the accident, Kim worked from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the restaurant, six days a week. His annual income ranged from $22,200 to $34,200.

“It appears to have been within the restaurant owners’ discretion to decide what to pay him each year,” Horsman wrote.

Kim switched careers in 2018 and now installs fibre optics.

Honesty and reliability

Over the course of the trial, the defendant Stefano Serafino Baldonero argued Kim is: “neither an honest nor reliable witness,” according to Horsman.

Kim’s evidence was sometime vague and inconclusive and contained inconsistencies in his description of his injuries, according to Baldonero.

“The defendant says that the plaintiff’s memory issues were selective, because he was able to recall details that assisted his case,” Horsman wrote.

While Kim had some issues with recall, Horsman ultimately found Kim to be: “an honest witness who did his best to provide responsive answers to the questions he was asked.” Inconsistencies in Kim’s testimony appeared to stem from the fact that his symptoms “fluctuated from day-to-day” and that Kim was trying to express his experience “living with chronic pain for the past seven years,” according to Horsman.

Judgment

After assessing the severity of Kim’s chronic pain, loss of earning capacity, as well as psychological counselling, rehabilitation, and medications, Horsman awarded Kim a total of $186,765.

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