Volvo ordered to pay $4.8 million to Canadian couple after terrifying crash

A BC court has awarded more than $4.8 million to a husband-and-wife trucking team after finding in the couple’s favour that truck maker Volvo’s negligence contributed to their 2009 crash.

British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Barry Davies ruling was published on June 23. It awards plaintiffs Amandeep Hans and his wife, Pavandeep, of Surrey, B.C., more than $4.86 million for the harm the couple suffered in their Jan. 31, 2009, crash on the Trans-Canada Highway in Manitoba. The province also sued Volvo and was awarded nearly $200,000 to cover medical costs.

According to the judgment, the couple was returning home from a long trip that took them into the U.S. and eastern Canada. At about 10 p.m. near Falcon Lake, the truck – a 2009 Volvo 780 – lost all electrical power, including headlights, interior lights and power steering.

Court records indicate Amandeep Hans screamed “What happened? What happened?” and then “We are going to die … we are going to die,” as the trailer began to sway uncontrollably and jackknifed on the highway. The trailer came fully around and struck the cab just behind the driver’s door, forcing the truck off the road and into a ditch where it came to rest on the passenger side.

Pavandeep Hans, who was lying in the sleeper berth at the time of the crash, managed to unbuckle her husband and drag him out of the vehicle. Although not seriously wounded, court records indicate that Amandeep was in a state of shock and that in the seven years since the crash he has suffered from a debilitating case of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The totality of the evidence establishes that Mr. Hans is now a shadow of his former self physically, emotionally and socially who is now incapable of enjoying life as he formerly did. He is also now incapable of maintaining gainful employment either as a long-haul truck driver or by alternative means,” the judgment reads.

The couple’s lawsuit alleged Volvo was negligent in “designing, manufacturing and installing” a critical cab positive terminal electrical connection, the failure of which caused the truck’s entire electrical system to shut down and the vehicle to subsequently crash.

In a response filed with the court, Volvo admitted the collision was caused by a loose nut on the cab positive terminal but denied the plaintiffs established that the Swedish-based motor company was negligent in the design, manufacture or installation of the connection. The company also argued that the husband and wife were overstating the extent of the psychological injuries sustained by Amandeep Hans following the crash.

The judge, however, concluded that Amandeep Hans’ PTSD was caused by the crash and that Volvo was negligent in installing the equipment, which caused the power failure. The power failure was attributed to the loose nut not being tightened “to the requisite torque value when the truck left the factory.”

The pair had been driving as a team since June 2005. They purchased the 2009 Volvo 780 in December 2007. The truck developed electrical problems, including a total electrical system shutdown on July 4, 2008. Court records indicate the electrical problems persisted until the Manitoba crash.