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Burnaby accused in lawsuit of creating ‘trap’ causing car crash

A woman crashed into a traffic-calming measure, allegedly causing significant injuries and permanent disability.
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bollard
This bollard was the site of a crash that caused permanent disability in Karen Ofstie in August 2015, according to a lawsuit accusing the city of “creating a trap” when the bollard was constructed allegedly without sufficient warning signage. Photo via Google Street View

The City of Burnaby is accused of “creating a trap” after a woman crashed into a traffic-calming measure, allegedly causing significant injuries and permanent disability.

The allegation arose from a lawsuit filed by a driver who in 2015 crashed into a curb and bollard, erected in the middle of the road just east of BCIT. The matter has not yet reached a resolution, but a recent decision revolving around a construction contractor’s insurance policy offered a look at the issues in the case.

Karen Ofstie said in the April 2016 lawsuit that, at 7 a.m. on Aug. 17, 2015, she was driving along Woodsworth Street just east of Westminster Avenue when she suddenly crashed into a curb across the road and a pole in the middle of the road.

According to the initial court filings, Ofstie said the crash caused injuries to her chest wall, shoulder, neck, back, spine, right foot, left arm and left hand, as well as causing headaches, numbness, anxiety and depression, difficulty sleeping and other injuries.

Ofstie claimed those injuries resulted in permanent physical disability, as well as loss of income.

The Surrey resident claimed the city was “negligent by placing the curb and pole in a dangerous location, failing to provide warning signs or markings, and creating a trap,” according to a court decision recently posted online.

The decision does not determine the result of the original lawsuit. Instead, it is part of a battle between the City of Burnaby and construction contractors over liability for the crash site.

The recent decision was intended to determine whether Jack Cewe Ltd.’s insurance, through Intact Insurance, was to cover the city’s legal costs.

The city was the original defendant in the lawsuit, but Cewe and two other contractors, Blue Pine Enterprises and R.F. Binnie and Associates, have since been pulled into the legal battle.

The city claimed that, if the crash occurred as claimed by Ofstie, the construction contractors were responsible for the scene of the crash, claiming they were expected to create warning signage as part of their contract.

But because it was the city’s decision to create the curb and bollard, Intact claimed that “if it is a ‘trap,’ it is a trap of Burnaby’s design,” according to the decision.

The B.C. Supreme Court determined the insurance company was liable to cover the city’s legal costs. The underlying legal claims have not been proven in court.

Read more from the Burnaby NOW