ICBC Law

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Failure to Examine Patient Impacts Weight of Expert Report

It is well established that failure of an ‘independent medical examiner’ to physically examine a patient is not, in and of itself, a reason for an expert report to be inadmissible in the BC Supreme Court. However, when a litigant relies on such a report the weight the court attaches to it is often negatively impacted.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating this.

In this week’s case (Johal v. Meyede) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2010 rear end collision.  Fault was admitted by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff suffered injuries which were ongoing at the time of trial and expected to effect her well into the future.  In the course of defending the claim ICBC retained a neurologist who did not examine the Plaintiff and provided a more conservative opinion with respect to the plaintiff’s limitations and care needs.  In placing less weight on this opinion, in part for failing to examine the plaintiff, Mr. Justice Funt provided the following reasons:

[47] The defendants also called Dr. F. Kemble as an expert witness. He had been retained to provide a responding medical-legal report. He was qualified, without objection, to provide expert evidence with respect to neurology. Dr. Kemble concluded his October 22, 2013 report saying:

I do not feel that there is any indication for any thoracic outlet surgery. Ultimately, the probability is that she will be able to work full time although she will probably have minor difficulty in terms of using her arm and moving her neck. I am optimistic, that with the measures outlined by Dr. Travlos and Dr. Caillier, that the pain will significantly reduce.

[48] For two reasons, I have given less weight to Dr. Kemble’s report and testimony than the other medical experts. First, he did not meet or examine the plaintiff. Second, in cross-examination, Dr. Kemble conceded that the basis for his report could be incorrect to the extent it was based on the assumption that the plaintiff’s symptoms would become intermittent.

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