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"Untruthful" Description of Collision Undermines Personal Injury Lawsuit

If an injured plaintiff inaccurately describes the forces of a collision to physicians that can work to undermine the foundation of subsequent medico-legal reports and strike at the foundation of a personal injury claim.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating such a result.

In this week’s case (Warren v. Morgan) the Plaintiff was involved in two collisions in 2008.  She sued for damages and proceeded to trial which took 22 days.  The Court found that the first collision caused “no damage” to the Plaintiff and dismissed the claim.  The second claim allegedly caused profound injury including long term problems stemming from both psychiatric and organic injuries.  The Court largely rejected the Plaintiff’s claim and dismissed most of the claimed damages.  In doing so Madam Justice Russell provided the following comments criticizing the Plaintiff’s evidence with respect the forces involved in the collision:

[476]     These findings do not determine the issue of causation. The law is well-established that causation and the extent of an injury will be decided on the whole of the evidence: Hoy v. Harvey, 2012 BCSC 1076 at paras. 44 – 45; Christoffersen v. Howarth, 2013 BCSC 144 at paras. 56 – 57. Even if the accident was minor, Ms. Warren may have suffered serious physical and psychological injury.

[477]     At the same time, Ms. Warren has put forward an untruthful version of the accident to her treating health care professionals, as evident in their description of the incident. For instance, Dr. Boyle’s report notes that she crashed into the car ahead of her as a result of Mr. Berretta’s vehicle hitting her from behind. This misstatement cannot be explained by the passage of time; it is a misrepresentation that affects the reliability of the medical evidence admitted in this case for the purpose of determining causation and damages…

[591]     On the evidence, I find the plaintiff has convinced herself that the accident occurred in a certain way and that she experienced certain symptoms. She has presented this story to her treating doctors who have relied upon the accuracy of her reported symptoms. These doctors have found support for their diagnoses in other medical reports, that similarly rely upon the accuracy of plaintiff’s reported symptoms. This evidence superficially seems reliable, but its foundation is fictitious.

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