Jocelyn Visser was critically injured in a head-on crash in Abbotsford in September 2015. A judge awarded her more than $3 million in damages on July 27, 2020. (File photo)

Abbotsford woman awarded $3 million from 2015 head-on crash

Jocelyn Visser was critically injured when driver crossed into her lane

An Abbotsford woman who was seriously injured in a head-on crash in 2015 has been awarded more than $3 million in damages.

The decision in favour of Jocelyn Visser was made July 27 in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

The court heard that Visser, then 21, was travelling home from her job at Save-On-Foods at about 11:15 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2015, when she was struck head-on by a vehicle driven by Balraj Cheema, then 55.

The collision took place as Visser was heading west and Cheema was driving east on Old Yale Road between Eagle Mountain Drive and St. Moritz Way.

Evidence presented in court indicated that Cheema crossed into Visser’s lane, and that his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit.

However, he pleaded guilty to causing an accident resulting in bodily harm and was sentenced in September 2017 to nine months in jail, two years’ probation and a two-year driving ban. Impaired-driving charges were stayed.

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Visser was critically injured in the crash, and was taken from the scene by air ambulance.

The court heard that Visser suffered “catastrophic injuries” in the collision and was near death.

Among her injuries were a severe traumatic brain injury (which led to a stroke), two significant skull fractures, three breaks on her right kneecap, five breaks on her left knee, multiple fractures in her left hand, a lacerated liver, numerous soft-tissue injuries, and serious vision difficulties.

A surgical repair plate was installed on her right thigh, but that had to be repaired when a screw came loose and penetrated the skin.

She spent two months in hospital and came home with a walker and a wheelchair.

Visser was involved in a second collision in April 2017 on Old Clayburn Rad near Immel Street.

In that incident, another driver made a left turn in front of Visser as she was proceeding through a green light. That driver admitted to being negligent in causing the crash, according to court documents.

Although Visser was emotionally distraught following that collision, she did not suffer any additional injuries, the documents state.

The court heard that Visser continues to suffer the impacts of the 2015 crash, including pain; memory loss; fatigue; difficulty standing, walking and running; limited mobility in her left knee; balance issues; vision problems; and behavioural changes such as anger and impatience.

Prior to the crash, she earned a certificate in early childhood education, had planned to become a teacher, and was working at Save-on-Foods, her parents’ bakery and a daycare.

RELATED: Police investigate suspected impaired-driving head-on collision

She also enjoyed reading, playing the piano, painting, drawing and hiking.

Since the collision, Visser has had to give up her dream of becoming a teacher, can no longer work in a daycare, and no longer plays the piano. Drawing and painting are also challenging for her.

She continues to work at Save-On-Foods, but has difficulty with many of the tasks.

“She recalled being asked to assist a customer to get vinegar from a low shelf and she had to call a manager because she could not bend or squat down to pick up the requested item,” the court documents state.

Cheema and ICBC were named as defendants in the first crash. In all, Visser was awarded $3.1 million, including $1.4 million for loss of future earning capacity and $1.2 million for the cost of future care.

No findings were made in relation to the second crash.

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