We Don't Need Your Consent! – ICBC Claims and Medical Reports


If you’re involved in a BC motor vehicle collision and have your injuries treated by a “medical practitioner” ICBC can compel the medical practitioner to provide them with a report documenting your injuries.  This is so even if you are not insured with ICBC and even if you don’t consent.  Reasons for judgement were published this week on the BC Supreme Court’s website discussing this area of law.
In today’s case (Pearlman v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was involved in collision in 2004.  He was insured with a carrier from Washington State.  The other motorist was insured with ICBC.   The Plaintiff initially contacted ICBC and signed an authorization permitting ICBC to obtain medical information relating to his injuries.  About a year later the Plaintiff hired a lawyer and cancelled the authorization.  Despite this ICBC contacted a physician who treated the Plaintiff after the accident (Dr. Lubin) and requested “a narrative medical report“.
Ultimately the Plaintiff’s lawsuit against the other motorist was dismissed at trial.  The Plaintiff then sued Dr. Lubin arguing that the physician breached the Plaintiff’s confidence by providing ICBC a medical report when the Plaintiff withdrew his consent for ICBC to obtain his medical information.  The Plaintiff also sued ICBC directly arguing that ICBC improperly requested the medico-legal report.  Both of these lawsuits were dismissed with the BC Supreme Court finding that whether or not ICBC has written authority, section 28 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act permits ICBC to obtain reports from treating medical practitioners and that practitioners have “no legal choice” other than to comply with such requests.
In the claim against Dr. Lubin Madam Justice Morrison stated as follows about the mandatory nature of section 28 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act:
[] Dr. Lubin was obligated to provide ICBC with the report as requested.  Dr. Lubin had no legal choice other than to comply with the mandatory request to submit a medical legal report to ICBC.  This did not amount to a breach of confidentiality as alleged by the plaintiff.
In the claim against ICBC Mr. Justice Smith found that it would be an ‘abuse of process‘ to permit the Jury in that action to make findings contrary to Madam Justice Morrison’s previous decision.  Mr. Justice Smith held as follows:

[14]         The plaintiff also sued Dr. Lubin, alleging a number of causes of action, including negligence and breach of confidence.  That action went to trial before Madam Justice Morrison and was dismissed in reasons for judgment dated March 11, 2009.  Madam Justice Morrison held that when ICBC requested the report, Dr. Lubin was obliged to provide it.  She found that obligation arose out of s. 28 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, which reads:

If any of the following persons attends to, diagnoses, treats or is consulted by a person injured in a motor vehicle accident in British Columbia, he or she must, whenever the corporation requests, provide the corporation, as soon as reasonably practicable, with a report of the injuries and their diagnosis and treatment and a prognosis, in the form the corporation prescribes …

The persons then listed include a medical practitioner….

[20] Madam Justice Morrison’s findings regarding Dr. Lubin’s conduct were made on the same or very similar evidence that is before the Court in this case, and I conclude it would indeed be an abuse of process to invite this jury to make contrary findings.

The Plaintiff appealed Madam Justice Morrison’s decision.  In the course of the Appeal the Plaintiff was ordered to post security for costs in the event he lost the appeal.  In reviewing this decision the BC Court of Appeal made the following comments on the matter of ICBC ordering reports not in the ‘prescribed form‘:

[19] Even if Mr. Pearlman were to succeed in his argument that the judge erred in finding that Dr. Lubin was required to provide the report under statute – I note, in that regard, that the report was not prepared in form CL 19, which is ICBC’s prescribed form under s. 28 of theInsurance (Vehicle) Act) – it is difficult to see how his appeal could succeed given the trial judge’s clear finding that Dr. Lubin did not cause him any loss.

These decisions illustrate ICBC’s power to get medical reports even absent patient consent.  It can be argued that the Court of Appeal’s comments can leave individuals with little recourse if ICBC goes further than ordering a CL-19 and in fact obtains a full medico-legal report.  A solution, at least insofar as tort claims are concerned, is for plaintiffs to bring this power to the Courts attention when ICBC insured defendants try to obtain independent medical exams in order to ‘level the playing field‘ under the BC Supreme Court Rules.

bc injury law, CL-19, independent medical exams, Madam Justice Morrison, Mr. Justice Smith, Pearlman v. ICBC, Pearlman v. Lubin, privacy, section 28 Insurance (Vehicle) Act

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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