Lifeguard awarded $120,000 in non-pecuniary damages for injuries while sitting in parked car

Ms. Morgan was waiting to pick up her boyfriend from work and sat in the driver’s seat of a parked vehicle with her left knee bent and foot on the seat. A vehicle driven by the defendant backed into Ms. Morgan’s vehicle, causing her knee to impact the bottom of the steering wheel which resulted in a great deal of pain in her knee and on the left side of her body.

Ms. Morgan struggled with learning disabilities from an early age and used her athleticism to feel she was good at something. At the time of the accident, Ms. Morgan was 28 years old and extremely active. She was employed by the City of Vancouver as a swimming instructor and a lifeguard, a physically demanding job. She also taught private swim lessons. The accident caused Ms. Morgan to be unable to continue her job as well as significantly reduced her ability to engage in athletic activities at the gym. At the time of trial, she had ongoing issues with left hip and right lumbar pain and was seeing a counsellor due to sadness she had felt since the accident.

The court found that as a result of the accident, Ms. Morgan was unable to do the job she loved and she could only perform her new job (a porter at St. Paul’s) with limitations and pain. The court noted her personality changed following the accident and she was less social. Most significantly, the court noted that Ms. Morgan’s injuries interrupted her active lifestyle, which was central to her identity and helped her overcome her shame associated with her learning disabilities. She was awarded $120,000.00 for pain and suffering.

Morgan v. Ziggiotti, 2021 BCSC 106