Court Upholds $17M Car Crash Award, Largest in Canadian History

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By David Goguen on April 22, 2009 10:11 AM

An appeals court in Canada has upheld a jury award of $17 million for injuries suffered in a car accident, which is being billed as the largest personal injury award in Canadian history. 

After a 2007 civil trial, a jury awarded $17 million to Robert Marcoccia, who was 20 years old at the time his Honda Civic ran a red light and was struck by a leased delivery truck making a left turn in front of him, the Toronto Star reports. The Ontario Court of Appeals upheld the award this week, although an appeal by Ford Motor Credit LLC (which owned the truck) to the Supreme Court of Canada is expected to be filed soon.

The jury in the case decided that, although Marcoccia actually ran a red light, the delivery driver was 61 percent at fault for the crash, and Marcoccia's liability was measured at 39 percent, according to the Star. The $17 million award is mostly intended to compensate for future health care costs for Marcoccia, who suffered serious brain injuries in the crash and was left "physically able but not mentally equipped to hold a job or live without the care of others," the paper reports.

The 2007 jury decided liability for the car accident under a legal theory known as "comparative negligence" ar "apportionment of fault", which lets people sue for injuries suffered in an accident even if their own negligence was a factor in what happened. The idea is that any damage award the plaintiff receives will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to him or her. So here, the jury's original calculation of Marcoccia's damage award was probably in the neighborhood of $24 million, but was reduced to $17 million based on his being deemed 39 percent at fault for the accident. Learn more about Motor Vehicle Accident Liability.