Indian-origin taxi driver’s negligence gets Canadian passenger $400,000 compensation

Indian-origin taxi driver's negligence gets Canadian passenger $400,000 compensation

NEW DELHI: A cab company in Canada has been ordered to pay over 400,000 Canadian dollars in compensation to a wheelchair-bound passenger who suffered due to the negligence of their Indian-origin driver.
The incident occurred in 2018 when the driver, Gurdeep Singh Sohi, made an abrupt and hard brake to avoid a collision with another car. As a result, the passenger, Jane Stillwell, was ejected from her wheelchair and sustained severe injuries.
According to the Richmond News website, the car ahead of Sohi had braked to avoid hitting a raccoon, prompting Sohi to make a sudden stop. The judgment, issued by the British Columbia Supreme Court on December 27, 2023, states that Stillwell will receive 171,470 Canadian dollars for future care and 10,423 Canadian dollars in special damages. The total compensation awarded amounts to 406,893 dollars.
During the nine-day trial, it was revealed that Sohi had picked up Stillwell from Richmond Hospital and was taking her to her residence in Steveston. Stillwell, who relies on a power wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy, was forcefully ejected from her wheelchair when Sohi made the abrupt brake.
The incident resulted in various injuries, including whiplash, bruising, lacerations, a broken nose, and multiple fractures in her lower body. She was hospitalized for two weeks and experienced a loss of muscle strength and function.
In her lawsuit against Richmond Cabs Ltd and Sohi, Stillwell claimed that both parties were negligent and responsible for her injuries. She argued that Sohi should have ensured she was securely fastened with a three-point wheelchair seatbelt.
Additionally, she stated that he should have at least inquired whether she needed assistance with fastening the seatbelt. Stillwell further maintained that Richmond Cabs Ltd was negligent for not providing the necessary safety measures.
The defence presented by Richmond Cabs Ltd and Sohi denied any breach of care in relation to Sohi’s driving. They argued that there is no recognized standard of care to assist an adult with fastening their seatbelt. Furthermore, they claimed that Stillwell contributed to the incident by failing to secure a belt attached to her wheelchair.
The judgment, while acknowledging Stillwell’s injuries and the negligence of the cab company and driver, emphasised the need to ensure the safety of passengers with disabilities.
In her ruling, Justice Francesca Marzari wrote: “This was particularly devastating for Ms Stillwell, as the maintenance of muscle strength and function has been a lifelong fight against the effects of muscular dystrophy.”
Marzari noted it was “uncontroversial” that Sohi did not affix the wheelchair seatbelt and found Stillwell would not have been able to do so herself due to her position.
According to the judge, Sohi breached the standard of care owed to Stillwell by not securing the three-point wheelchair seat belt, which is included in the training materials for wheelchair taxi drivers and supported by expert evidence, reported news agency IANS.
“This is particularly true in these circumstances, where Mr Sohi knew that passengers with disabilities require more care to be taken, and that he knew that his passenger in this case was not properly restrained,” Marzari wrote in her judgement.
(With agency input)

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