A woman was awarded more than $2 million in damages after she stopped to help at a collision in 2012 and was struck by a vehicle herself.
Dania Ann Macie, then 24 years old, was driving to work at a community centre in North Vancouver one morning in October that year, heading for the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, when she witnessed a man crash his car.
She knew first aid, so she pulled over and walked back to the crash site. She was standing, speaking to someone, when a vehicle hit her from behind.
“The impact threw her into the air. She travelled in the air about a car length before landing, face down,” said B.C. Supreme Court Justice George Macintosh in a ruling released Tuesday that illustrates how someone’s act of kindness can instead shatter how they plan to live their life.
“She does not remember the impact, or hitting the pavement. Her first memory was of lying on the pavement, face down.”
Macie, now 31, remembers very little about what happened, and has struggled significantly since.
She’d been studying to be a psychiatric nurse at Stenberg College in Surrey, and started experiencing headaches, irritability, and memory loss – having to “read and re-read everything.” She failed her exams and was eventually dismissed.
She also lost weight, couldn’t sleep, and became depressed.
Her ultimate difficulty became anxiety. The young woman, who’d grown up in Courtenay, said she suffered from panic attacks five times a week in which she just tries to “hold on.”
In 2018, she admitted herself to hospital because she thought she might self-harm.
At trial, the driver who hit her, Honorato Cruz DeGuzman, argued the crash had caused relatively minor injuries and damage, and that her present-day difficulties stemmed from “rebellious periods” in her teenage years, including depression, anxiety and other “troubles.”
The judge disagreed, saying she’d managed to get through that period, and pointing to the witnesses who described her as “outgoing” and an “achiever.”
He awarded her $2.07 million in general, special and other damages, noting the attorneys must calculate a lower total in loss of future earning capacity to reflect his finding that Macie would not have lost as much as she’d argued.
Regardless, Macintosh wrote that the young woman had demonstrated, as both an adult and child, that she had an active intelligence and could lead a productive life.
He added: “But for the accident, the evidence shows that the plaintiff would probably be prospering today.”