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Judicial Analysis Required for Each Item Sought In Future Care Claims

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Court of Appeal discussing future care awards and the appropriate analysis that trial judges should undertake when considering such awards.
In last week’s case (Gignac v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2004 collision.  The Plaintiff’s injuries were expected to cause on-going difficulties.  At trial the Plaintiff sought $115,975 for future care needs.  This claim was awarded in full.  ICBC appealed arguing that the evidence did not support some of the claims made and that the trial judge did not apply the proper analysis.  The BC Court of Appeal agreed and reduced the award by almost $45,000.  In doing so the BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons:

[29] The purpose of the award for costs of future care is to restore, as best as possible with a monetary award, the injured person to the position he would have been in had the accident not occurred.

[30] The award is “based on what is reasonably necessary on the medical evidence to promote the mental and physical health of the plaintiff: (Milina  v. Bartsch (1985), 49 B.C.L.R. (2d) 33 (B.C.S.C.) and adopted inAberdeen v. Zanatta, 2008 BCCA 420 at para. 41.

[31] ICBC says that the trial judge did not examine each request and determine if there was an evidentiary link between the medical assessment and the care recommended by the occupational therapist and rehabilitation consultant. As Garson J.A. said in Gregory v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2011 BCCA 144 at para. 39:

I do not consider it necessary, in order for a plaintiff to successfully advance a future cost of care claim, that a physician testify to the medical necessity of each and every item of care that is claimed.  But there must be some evidentiary link drawn between the physician’s assessment of pain, disability, and recommended treatment and the care recommended by a qualified health care professional:  Aberdeen at paras. 43, 63.

[32] The failure of the trial judge to perform an analysis of each item sought by the plaintiff with respect to whether there was “some evidentiary link between the physician’s assessment of pain, disability and recommended treatment and the care recommended by a qualified health professional” was a legal error. The trial judge has since retired, and therefore it is not appropriate to refer the matter back to the trial court as the costs to the parties would be significant. Instead, this Court can make the assessment.

Cost of Future Care, Gignac v. ICBC, Gignac v. Rozylo