Cost of Future Care Reports and Hearsay Evidence
When presenting an injury claim with a future care component expert evidence is often called to address not only the future care required, but also the cost of future care. These experts sometimes rely on hearsay evidence in discussing the costs of the items recommended for future care. Can this evidence be admitted? This question was squarely answered in a 2008 ICBC UMP Arbitration which I summarize in my continued effort to create a searchable UMP caselaw database.
In the 2008 decision (MEN NN and DN v. ICBC) the Claimants sought damages following the wrongful death of their father/husband following a motor vehicle collision. The matter was arbitrated under UMP. In support of their claim the Claimants sought to introduce an expert report from a rehabilitation consultant to address future care needs for the surviving family members. ICBC objected to this report on several grounds. One of ICBC’s objections was that the report relied on hearsay evidence in addressing future care costs. Arbitrator Yule rejected this argument and admitted the report (with a few modifications based on other objections). In addressing the hearsay component Arbitrator Yule provided the following useful reasons:
18. As noted previously, the Report as it applies to the claims of DN and NN also includes the commercial cost of various services such as courier service, handyman service, storage locker fees, taxis and airfares. The cost of various services is considered to be within the scope of opinion evidence customarily given by rehabilitaiton experts notwithstanding that, to some extent, it may be hearsay information obtained from other service providers. Cost of care expers routinely include informaiton regarding the costs of services in their reports. In Jacobson v. Nike (1996) BCLR (3d) 63, the cost of care experts were Ms. Schulstad, a nurse with experience and education in rehabilitation nursing, and Ms. Harris, whose background was in occupational therapy. Levine J. (as she then was) accepted these witnesses as qualified to provide expert evidence concerning both the care required and the costs of providing it. At paragraph 185 the Judge said:
I am satisfied from the evidence of his injuries and function and of the clinical records that the plaintiff requires personal attendant care and homemaker services to sustain or improve his physical and mental health. I am also satisfied that consultants with the experience, skill and training of Ms. Schulstad and Ms. Harris are qualified to assess his specific care needs and to provide expert evidence concerning the care required to meet his medical needs and the costs of providing for them.
In MacDonald v. Neufeld, [Vancouver Registry, September 3, 1993] the cost of care expert, Mr. Simpson, included in his report the cost of airplane tickets and other expenses for a travelling companion.
19. As a practical matter, the admissibility of costing information on this basis makes eminent sense. If it were not admissible as part of Ms. Stewart-Blair’s report, then one of the Claimants could herself make the same inquiries, but adducing the evidence in that fashion would be subject to the same objection as hearsay. Thus, in the absence of admissions, the various service providers themselves would have to give evidence which would be both an inconvenience to them and an inefficient use of Hearing time. Accordingly, I rule that the costs information in the Report of commercially provided services in relation to the claims of DN and NN is admissible.
For more on this topic from a Judicial authority, the latest case from the BC Court of Appeal is worth reviewing for their practical take on the role hearsay evidence can play in expert reports.