A 43 year old fitness instructor was participating in a guided horse trail ride in Langley, British Columbia. After selecting a horse affectionately known as “Douggy”, the woman, a guide and two other riders set out on the trail. Partway through the ride, the group stopped for a break to dismount and see the scenery. When the woman attempted to remount her horse with the help of the trail guide, the horse bolted and she fell, suffering injuries as a result.
At trial in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Starrett v. Campbell 2015 BCSC 1424, the women claimed $250,000 in damages resulting from lasting injuries, loss of past income, loss of future earnings, future costs of care, special damages, and non-pecuniary losses. While Madam Justice S. Griffin found that the Horse Guide was negligent, she concluded that the woman had only proven that those injuries were minor and awarded her $8,042 in damages. Additionally, because the women had recovered under $25,000, costs were not awarded as Supreme Court Rule 14-1(10) prevents a plaintiff from recovering costs in Supreme Court where the amount received is under $25,000 and within the jurisdiction of the Provincial Court.
Madam Justice S. Griffin, while commending of the women’s astute self-representation, had the following to say:
This case serves as an example of why a lawyer is essential in a personal injury matter. In many cases self-represented litigants are rarely as efficient or effective as lawyers, especially given the inherent difficulty of trying to present highly emotional and personal evidence to the court in an objective way. As a result, self-represented litigants may struggle in receiving deserved compensation for their injuries. An experienced lawyer is able to navigate the rules of court and use them to the client’s advantage. As an advocate for the client, a lawyer is in the best position to determine the strength of the client’s evidence and how to best present the evidence to the court in an objective way that is favorable to the client’s case.