Supreme Court of British Columbia rules in favor of trucker; $1.6 million in damages

January 14, 2021

SJ Munoz


Former truck driver Alan Kempton will receive $1.6 million in damages from the estate of William Ross Struke, based on a Dec. 31 ruling by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

Justice David A. Crerar awarded Kempton the compensation for ongoing post-traumatic stress disorder and physical injuries exacerbated or caused by the 2015 fatal crash, according to the ruling.

On the morning of Aug. 5, 2015, Kempton was driving a 2007 Freightliner for Elite Transport northwest of Prince George, British Columbia. A 2008 Chevrolet Aveo, driven by 19-year-old William Struke, crossed the center line and collided with Kempton’s truck.

Court records stated Struke had been drinking with friends the evening before and into the morning. Fatigue was another factor cited in the crash. The ruling also said Struke made no attempt to brake before impact.

A police report stated Struke’s vehicle was, “crushed like an accordion” and he was killed instantly.

Justice Crerar wrote, “Mr. Struke crossed the line, into Mr. Kempton’s lane, causing the accident. Mr. Kempton applied the brakes immediately, leaving a 68-meter-long tire skid mark. There was nothing the plaintiff could do to avoid the accident, given the wholly unexpected actions of Mr. Struke on perfectly clear road conditions that morning.”

The wreckage and its aftermath, visible to a trapped Kempton,” still haunt him, almost daily, more than five years later, the judgment stated.

Kempton has experienced trouble sleeping and recurring nightmares of being trapped in the cab, court records detailed.

However, a few days after the head-on collision, Kempton returned to work.

He continued driving 12-hour shifts, five days a week, but the psychological stress would become too much as detailed by court proceedings.

Anxiety attacks, flashbacks, physical pain and depression eventually led to a finding by WorkSafe BC, which stated Kempton’s PTSD could no longer be clinically treated because it was permanent.

On Sept. 17, 2018, it was ruled Kempton could no longer work in commercial driving and WorkSafe BC determined he was “competitively unemployable.”

Additionally, expert medical testimony diagnosed Kempton with severe PTSD as well as chronic and severe major depressive disorder.

The defendants accept the plaintiff continues to suffer from PTSD, but contest whether the crash caused Kempton’s physical injuries and argue he has failed to pursue any treatment or seek help.

No expert medical reports were provided by the defendants, and the court rejected this argument.

Kempton relocated to a secluded area in Nova Scotia to better handle the psychological issues. While found blameless, Kempton told the court he feels guilt for Struke’s death and constantly thinks of the impact on the Struke family. LL


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