Why Frequent Doctor Visits Don't Increase The Value of Personal Injury Claims

As previously discussed, frequent doctor visits in and of themselves add no value to a personal injury claim.  Seeing a doctor simply to ‘paper’ a personal injury claim really does nothing to add to the amount of compensation a claimant is entitled to receive not to mention that it creates a costly and unnecessary burden on the medical system.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating that medical visits to address ‘inconsequential‘ matters with a view to assisting a personal injury claim are frowned upon.
In this week’s case (Hough v. Wyatt) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 collision.  He sued seeking over $350,000 in damages.  The Court largely rejected the Plaintiff’s claim finding that while the collision did cause some injuries these were little more than a ‘minor degree‘ of aggravation of pre-existing injuries.  Non-Pecuniary damages of $15,000 were assessed.
In the course of the judgement Madam Justice Stromberg-Stein had provided the following critical comments:
[9] Mr. Hough was a very difficult witness. He is a poor historian, which is understandable given his extensive medical history. However, he bears the burden of proof. He was argumentative, abrasive, sometimes rude, often unresponsive, and many times inconsistent in his evidence. Mr. Hough clearly demonstrates an attitude of entitlement to insurance benefits, at one point indicating he doesn’t understand the problem here, it is only insurance money. He reports everything, no matter how inconsequential, even a broken fingernail, so if there is a problem in the future, he can get compensation. The trouble for Mr. Hough is he was a medical disaster before the accident, and the defendant is not obliged to pay for all that ails him or ailed him. Mr. Hough’s pre-existing medical condition, his original position, as outlined in the evidence of Dr. Waiz, and what Mr. Hough can recall, would have manifested debilitating effects in any event, regardless of the accident. His original condition would have detrimentally affected him even absent the defendant’s negligence. The defendant is not required to compensate him for debilitating effects not caused by the accident….
[14] Dr. Waiz’s evidence is unsatisfactory on many levels, not the least of which his manner in which he managed Mr. Hough’s care with increasing doses of narcotics. His records are unreliable. He blames computer programs and computer generated forms. He has been willing to fill out reports to benefit Mr. Hough, for example, claiming all Mr. Hough’s drugs were WCB-related so Mr. Hough could be compensated, and claiming a wrist fracture was a WCB injury due to ongoing weakness and pain in his right leg. This is the same broken wrist that Mr. Hough now claims was caused by the accident for the same reason. Where it has suited Mr. Hough, Dr. Waiz has reported to WCB Mr. Hough is unable to work in any capacity. Now he was reporting to this court that, because of the accident, Mr. Hough cannot work. The concern is he is parroting what Mr. Hough wants him to say.
While it is true that serious injuries warrant higher damage awards than minor injuries and that serious injuries typically result in more medical appointments, the mere number of doctor’s visits in and of themselves do not assist in valuing a personal injury claim.  You can click here for a short discussion addressing the factors Court’s often consider when assessing non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering) in a BC personal injury lawsuit.

bc injury law, Frequency of Medical Appointments, Hough v. Wyatt, Madam Justice Stromberg-Stein, non-pecuniary damages

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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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