Examinations for Discovery and Your ICBC Claim
If you are advancing an ICBC injury claim and started a court action in BC Supreme Court you may very well have to go through an ‘examination for discovery’. I have received numerous questions about the discovery process from people involved in ICBC claims through this website and thought I would summarize some of my comments in the below blog.
The usual summary I give when explaining what an examination for discovery (XFD) is to people who are not familiar with the term is to think about a ‘deposition’ as often depicted on TV legal dramas. In essence, a discovery is a pre-trial step in which the opposing lawyers get to ask a party to a lawsuit questions about the claim.
The rules of court governing the prosecution of civil (legal actions between two private citizens) claims requires disclosure of key facts and circumstances prior to a trial. In the context of ICBC claims, the discovery process permits the other lawyer to question a plaintiff about the accident and injuries, the effects of them on the plaintiff’s life and the financial losses that are being claimed.
Examinations for discovery are conducted under oath (or affirmation) and are conducted before a court reporter. This is not a formal process conducted before a judge, rather, it usually occurs in a business office owned and operated by private court reporters. The court reporter records the questions and answers.
There are 2 very broad purposes to examinations for discovery. The first is to learn all about the other side’s case. That is, to get the Plaintiff’s evidence first hand and in person regarding the accident and injuries. This helps the other lawyer weigh the credibility and reliability of the Plaintiff and to make an assessment of whether the Plaintiff will present well in court.
The second purpose is to damage the other sides case. A lawyer conducting a discovery has the right to use the questions and answers that he/she likes and to read these into the trial record should the claim proceed to court. For this reason it is essential that anybody advancing an ICBC claim is very well prepared prior to attending an examination for discovery. Any answer given that is harmful can and likely will be used by the other lawyer to harm the case should it proceed to trial.
For an example of how an answer at an examination for discovery can harm an ICBC claim just read the recent judgment of Yapyuco v. Paul, where Mr. Justice Curtis dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim in large part due to the answers given at her examination for discovery.
Preparation for discovery is a lengthy process and I can’t summarize all the useful advice as to how best to conduct oneself in a discovery in this short blog. I will, however, point out some of the typical things canvassed at discoveries of ICBC claims below.
Normally, a Plaintiff in an ICBC claim is questioned about the 14 below categories (I should point out that discoveries at ICBC claims are not limited to these categories, these are simply general categories of questions that often come up)
1. Your Personal History – such as name, age, date of birth, place of birth and family members details
2. Your Educational History – including all levels of education and academic accomplishments
3. Your work history including contact information for all employers
4. Your plans preceding the accident in terms of personal life and vocation
5. How these plans changed as a result of the accident
6. How the accident happened including details of speed, weather, lighting, distances and all injuries sustained in the accident
7. The course of treatment taken after the accident including the names of all doctors and therapists
8. Changes in lifestyle as a result of the accident including social, recrational , family, personal and employment changes. Addressing employment usually details of lost wages or wage earninng opportunities are canvassed as well.
9. Medical and personal status prior to the accident
10. Present condition and limitations
11. Present plans for employment and whether there are any restrictions on employment
12. Future plans for treatment
13. Details of activities that have been affected by the accident related injuries
14. The details of a typical day and what it is like to live with the injuries.
No 2 discoveries are alike and I stress again that the above is nether an exhastive list of the types of questions asked at discoveries involving ICBC claims nor are all of the above categories always covered at discoveries for ICBC claims.
Assuming you have hired a lawyer to assist you with your ICBC claim he/she will be present at the discovery and will object to any inappropriate questions posed by the other lawyer. If the discovery is conducted professionally by the ICBC lawyer the objections are usually few and far between. The lion’s share of work that an ICBC claims lawyer does is conducted prior to the discovery.
A good ICBC claims lawyer will ensure a client is well prepared, understands the process and understands how the answers given can be used to hurt the claim. ICBC cases are typically ‘record intensive’ and care must be taken in preparation to review these medical and other records to consider what use they may be put to at a discovery.
Do you have questions about an ICBC claim or an examination for discovery in a personal injury claim that you would like to discuss with an ICBC claims lawyer? If so, click here to arrange a free consultation with ICBC claims lawyer Erik Magraken.