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Paralyzed Hockey Player Sues Both Drivers Responsible for Accident

Posted in: Blog, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Serious Personal Injury // Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie
April 2, 2020

Ryan Straschnitzki (“Straschnitzki”) has commenced a $13.5 million lawsuit against both the truck driver and the driver of the bus that he was riding in, along with the Governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan and others in regards to the 2018 bus crash.  The lawsuit was filed in both Calgary and Saskatoon.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The horrific accident occurred on April 6, 2018 at about 4:30 p.m. at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 in Saskatchewan.  A bus made up of junior hockey team players, coaches, the team radio announcer, amongst others were headed to a playoff game.  As a result of the accident, sixteen were killed and another thirteen were injured.

Strashcnitzki suffered paralysis from the chest down as a result of the crash.  We have previously blogged about his recovery progress and reported that he travelled to Thailand for treatment.  In early November 2019, doctors in Thailand implanted an epidural stimulator in his spine and then a week later injected stem cells above and below his injury to help reverse some of the damage.

THE LAWSUIT

The accident occurred when Jaskirat Singh Sidhu (“Sidhu”) drove through a stop sign and collided with a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.  Sidhu was travelling between 86 and 96 km/h.  He passed four signs warning him about the upcoming intersection that had an oversized stop sign with a flashing light.

A forensic collision report found that Sidhu did not brake at the intersection of Highways 335 and 35 before colliding with the bus.  The report also indicated that Sidhu’s view of the intersection was not impeded by any environmental factors, such as trees or sunlight. 

Sidhu pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and was sentenced to eight years in prison.  During his sentencing hearing, his lawyer maintained that he was an inexperienced truck driver and was distracted by a tarp flapping on the trailer of the truck he was driving.

The hockey team’s bus driver, Glen Doerksen (“Doerksen”), who was killed in the crash, has also been named as defendant in Straschnitzki’s lawsuit.   According to the claim, Doerksen “owed a duty of care to the plaintiff to operate the said bus exercising all reasonable care and skill”. 

It is alleged that Doerksen was speeding at the time of the accident.  The plaintiff claims that there were skid marks from the bus at the crash site and the RCMP estimated that at the time of the accident Doerksen was travelling between 97 and 110 km/h.  The lawsuit also alleges that Doerksen was aware that he was approaching a “sight-restricted intersection” where numerous fatal collisions have occurred in the past. 

The lawsuit alleges that the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan failed to make the roadways safe and provide adequate and safe trucking regulations.  The plaintiff claims that Saskatchewan did not maintain the trees at the intersection properly to maintain clear site lines, failed to install rumble strips and failed to provide warning signs. 

The lawsuit claims that the province of Alberta failed to regulate, adequately train and enforce the rules for trucking companies.  It is further alleged that the governments failed by leaving the responsibility for transportation safety with the federal government.

The lawsuit also names additional defendants including the owners of the trailer Sidhu was pulling, Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd. (the owner of the trucking company), Charlie’s Charters Ltd. (the Saskatchewan company that owned the bus) and the manufacturer of the bus.

DAMAGES

According to the Statement of Claim, as a result of the accident, Straschnitzki was left paralyzed and continues to suffer from headaches, cognitive difficulties, short term memory loss, severe driving anxiety, anger, depression, nightmares and insomnia.  Straschnitzki seeks compensation for his catastrophic injuries, in addition to his lost wages.  

The lawsuit alleges that the actions or omissions “of all defendants were reprehensible, reckless, malicious, high-handed and demonstrated such a lack of disregard for the health, safety and rights of the Humboldt Broncos that the plaintiff claims punitive damages”.

Punitive damages are used in civil actions only in exceptional circumstances for particularly egregious conduct.  This specific type of damages are intended to punish a particularly disgraceful action and prevent similar future behaviour by the wrongdoer and society at large.

The statement of claim by Straschnitzki is made up of details that have not yet been proven in court.  The defendants have not as of yet filed responses, also known as statements of defence, to Straschnitzki’s claims.

Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers will continue to provide updates through this blog as we receive further information on any new developments.

In the meantime, if you or a loved one have suffered a serious personal injury you may be entitled to compensation for the damages you have suffered.  Please contact the award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers either online or by calling 403-571-0555.  We can get started with a free case evaluation and are dedicated to providing you with the legal help you deserve.

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