Woman awarded more than $1M in lawsuit over 2014 rear-end crash in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Woman awarded more than $1M in lawsuit over 2014 rear-end crash in Kamloops

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October 11, 2019 - 9:00 AM

A 31-year-old woman who suffered a range of injuries after a motor vehicle crash in Kamloops more than five years ago has been awarded more than $1,000,000 by a B.C. Supreme Court Judge.

In a court decision published earlier this week, Kristel Dubitz says she suffered a mild traumatic brain injury in an accident while travelling on the Halston Connector towards the Yellowhead Highway. Prior to the accident, Dubitz was described as an energetic, active, young woman.

On May 2, 2014, Dubitz was driving her Chevrolet Silverado truck on her way to work just before 8 a.m. Traffic was relatively heavy that day, the decision says.

The Halston Connector is a divided roadway with two lanes in each direction. Dubitz was travelling in the right lane to merge onto the Yellowhead. She was travelling at the speed of traffic when suddenly the vehicle in front of stopped.

“Ms. Dubitz slammed on her brakes and came to a ‘screeching halt’. She came to a full stop, leaving some space between her vehicle and the vehicle in front of her,” Justice Len Marchand said in his decision.

Shortly after stopping, she heard a really loud bang and the next thing Dubitz remembers is holding onto her face trying to figure out if her nose was broken.

“She was confused. Her nose and cheek were sore and her ears were ringing,” Marchand said.

A Toyota Tundra being driven by John Knoebel, the defendant in the lawsuit, had run into Dubitz’s vehicle. Dubitz also noticed a Dodge Neon, driven by Deanna Rice, had run into the Toyota Tundra.

Dubitz eventually discontinued her claim against Rice because there was no evidence to suggest that Rice’s vehicle was the reason Knoebel’s vehicle struck Dubitz’s truck.

“Mr. Knoebel also has only a fragmented memory of the accident. He recalls driving on the Halston Connector on his way to work. He recalls that the traffic was heavy and that he was travelling at traffic speed,” Marchand said.

Knoebel says he recalls seeing brake lights in front of him and slamming on his brakes.

Dubitz's vehicle was written off and Knoebel’s vehicle was not operable after the accident.

Following the accident, Dubitz says her injuries became apparent. She went to work that same day and quickly noticed she couldn’t focus, forgot some of her typical job duties, was uncomfortable sitting, suffered from headaches, neck and back pain. She was also upset, agitated and flustered.

Over time it got worse. Dubitz says she suffered from nightmares and found it hard to eat or drive.

A doctor told her she suffered from a concussion and noted to take time off of work and to take it easy.

The decision also refers to a serious horseback riding incident from when Dubitz was 14 years of age and fractured her skull. She made full recovery and the only lingering injury she has from the incident is partial permanent hearing loss in one of her ears.

As time went on from the car accident, a doctor noted that many of her symptoms may be due to anxiety. She was told to take more time off work and prescribed physiotherapy.

When she was given the OK by her doctors to return to work, Dubitz says she was happy about it but it only lasted a few short days. She had difficulty keeping up conversations, hard time with regular duties such as invoicing and internal coding.

She saw a doctor again and had to put her studies at Thompson Rivers University on hold. Dubitz's parents had an accident where they were both injured. The decision says this caused Dubitz great stress as she spent time travelling to and from Chase to help her parents.

However, her mother testified at trial while Dubitz had good intentions to help them out, in reality, she often had headaches, backaches, was tired, laid down and did not do that much.

Her father contracted pneumonia and died shortly afterwards causing Dubitz emotional distress and increased her anxiety. She missed five days of work as a result.

In 2016, she had more personal troubles and things were also not going well at her job, she was irritable, in physical discomfort and her hair was falling out and was described at being at her “breaking point.”

She eventually stopped working completely. Over time, she began volunteering and enrolled in a new program at TRU.

In early 2018, her doctor declared she was ready to return to work. She picked up a housekeeping position but found it difficult to remember things. She later left this job and took a park maintenance position in Chase. She would take several breaks when she needed to and was also doing yoga. She felt like she was in great shape at this time.

Her current condition is described as physical pain in her neck, shoulders, upper back, chest and having to take constant breaks from sitting and driving. She has difficulty remembering things, focusing, concentrating and multitasking. She has issues sleeping, avoids social settings and busy places.

Knoebel contended that Dubitz’s testimony was exaggerated, unbelievable, inconsistent in some cases dishonest, but the judge disagreed. Knoebel denies liability, says the accident occurred when traffic stopped unexpectedly requiring emergency braking.

“No witness has perfect recall or expresses herself perfectly. Ms. Dubitz is no exception but, overall, I found her to be credible and reliable,” Marchand said.

Dubitz submitted a significant number of expert reports from professionals involved in her treatment, Marchand said. Some of those findings from a Neuropsychologist concluded Dubitz suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety as a result of the accident. 

In total, Dubitz was awarded $1,048,160. 72 for non-pecuniary damages, past loss of income, future loss of earning capacity, cost of future care, loss of housekeeping capacity and special expenses.

For the full decision go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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