Jury Award Far Exceeds ICBC Offer
HALLER v. GALEY
Jury Trial Conducted by James Cotter and Ryan Irving, December 2015
Our client, Mr. Haller, was 62 years old at the time he was injured in a high speed, rear-end motor vehicle accident. Following the accident, he suffered from a significant neck injury and debilitating headaches, as well as problems with balance and vertigo, requiring him to use a cane. At the time he was a logging truck driver who had taken time off of work for treatment of cancer. Mr. Haller intended to return to work in his chosen profession once he had finished his treatments. He had been driving a logging truck for nearly 40 years, and had no intention of retiring any time soon.
ICBC was the insurer for the Defendant Galey, who hit Mr. Haller’s vehicle from behind. ICBC took the position that Mr. Haller was not going to return to work as a logging truck driver even if the accident had not occurred, as he was fighting cancer, he had diabetes, and he was too old. ICBC took this position despite the fact that Mr. Haller had evidence supporting the fact that he had worked all of his life, and that he wanted to continue working, and he did not have limitations to working prior to the accident. This was supported by his medical records, his financial records and his co-workers and friends.
ICBC set the matter down to be heard in front of a jury. James Cotter, a senior litigation partner at Nixon Wenger LLP and Ryan Irving, a litigation associate, conducted the trial on behalf of Mr. Haller. At the trial, the Defense argued that any continued problems that Mr. Haller had with regard to being unable to work related to his diabetes rather than injuries suffered in a high speed accident. Cotter and Irving obtained expert opinion evidence from a medical doctor with specialty in physical medicine and rehabilitation, as well as a doctor with a specialty in ear, nose and throat conditions (primarily balance related issues). Both of these medical experts provided opinions that Mr. Haller’s chronic, debilitating neck pain, headaches, and balance issues all stemmed from the trauma due to the accident. The Defense retained its own expert, who had the unique opinion that the accident was not a contributing factor for Mr. Haller’s current disability, rather it was his diabetes that was causing balance issues, which prevented him from working.
After a week-long trial, the jury verdict came back largely in agreement with Mr. Cotter’s submissions regarding Mr. Haller’s claim. The verdict was a fair result, which was far more than what ICBC had offered. The jury believed Mr. Haller and his medical experts in regard to his injuries and his intention to keep working. They did not accept the Defendant’s argument that he was too old or that his diabetes was preventing him from driving his logging truck. It was a just result for Mr. Haller, who showed courage to take this matter to a trial in the face of ICBC’s low offer. The jury applied common sense and arrived at a fair result.