Laurie Fagan, CBC news

Derek Nicholson’s client Gwen Lambert suffered serious leg injuries in last month’s fatal OC Transpo crash at Westboro station. He says she’s relieved the city’s insurance company will give her an interim payment before her lawsuit is dealt with. 

An Ottawa woman suing the City of Ottawa after her legs were crushed in last month’s fatal double-decker bus crash is set to get a significant payout from the city’s insurance company.

Gwen Lambert was one of 23 people injured Jan. 11 when her OC Transpo bus slammed into a Transitway shelter at Westboro station.

Three people also died in the crash.

“Her condition is still very challenging, and my understanding is that she may not be able to walk for about a year. But it’s still not clear,” said her lawyer, Derek Nicholson.

Nicholson’s firm, Beament Herbert Nicholson LLP, has filed a negligence lawsuit for more than $6 million against the city, OC Transpo, the bus driver and the province of Ontario.

That amount is the “upper limit,” Nicholson said, that would compensate Lambert — who is still in hospital and is facing multiple surgeries, followed by lengthy rehabilitation — for her potential lost income, future health care costs, and pain and suffering.

Nicholson would not say how much Lambert would receive in the interim from the city’s insurance company, other than it was “tens of thousands of dollars.”

Lambert was riding this double-decker city bus when it struck the transit shelter at Westboro station on Jan. 11. She was one of 23 people injured in the crash. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Nicholson said he’d forged a strong relationship with the lawyer for the city’s insurance company after representing survivors of a 2013 collision between an OC Transpo bus and a Via Rail train in their own lawsuit.

The company’s lawyer “volunteered” the possibility of an advance payment, said Nicholson — an unusual offer in insurance industry negotiations.

“I don’t think liability is being seriously contested,” he said. “Obviously they haven’t admitted it yet, but the advance is a credit to what my client will be entitled to eventually.”

‘Immediate assistance’

The city declined an interview Wednesday about the payment.

However, deputy solicitor David White said in an email that interim payments were being covered by the insurer to “provide immediate assistance to those seriously injured and their families,” rather than forcing them to first wait for the litigation process to wrap up.

For now, only Lambert is receiving a payment, White said. The city’s insurer was “reaching out to other seriously injured plaintiffs through their legal counsel,” he added.

Nicholson said he was encouraged by the gesture, since one client he represented following the 2013 crash waited three years to receive money.

He said Lambert was “grateful” to have received the payment, making it “one less thing” she had to be concerned about.

“It’s an unfortunate accident, and I think the city wants to help people,” he said.

“It’s a pretty terrifying time. I know my client is stuck in a hospital still, and worrying about money isn’t something you want on top of that.”

Source: CBC News

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