Useful Insight into Cross-Examination in an ICBC Brain Injury Claim
When involved in an ICBC Injury Claim it is natural to want to know what the trial experience can be like. The best way to experience what the Court process is like is to actually attend a live trial and watch the evidence play out before you. This is easy enough to do, particularly in larger centres around the Province, like in Vancouver or New Westminster, as an injury trial is occurring on almost any given day.
If you can’t do this you can read past court judgements to get a feel for the ways these claims can proceed at trial. While this is not nearly as enlightening as witnessing a live trial some useful insight can still be gleaned. If you are looking for a court judgement giving insight into the court process Reasons for judgement were released today reproducing extensive portions of a Plaintiff’s cross examination in an ICBC Brain Injury Claim that are worth reviewing in full.
In today’s case (Trevitt v. Tobin) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2004 Motorcycle Accident in Surrey, BC. The Defendant pulled into the Plaintiff’s line of travel while making a left hand turn. The Defendant ultimately conceded the issue of fault.
The trial focused on the injuries the Plaintiff had the the appropriate award for compensation. The Plaintiff alleged that he suffered a traumatic brain injury and as a result would suffer a serious ongoing disability. The Plaintiff sought over $1.5 million dollars in total damages.
The Plaintiff’s claim with respect to his injuries and the extent of disability was largely rejected with Mr. Justice McEwan finding that “the physical evidence does not account for a head injury or concussion“. In the end the Court found that the Plaintiff suffered from “general bruising and shaking up in the accident” and following a setback in his career ambitions he suffered from “ongoing difficulties with headaches, tinnitus and some balance issues“. The Court found that these issues were ongoing by the time of trial (some 5 years later). The Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary loss (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) was valued at $60,000.
The Court heard from many very qualified physicians who gave opinion evidence with respect to the Plaintiff’s medical condition. As is often the case in ICBC Injury Claims the court heard competing expert evidence from physicians called by the Plaintiff and the Defendant. In determining which experts had the more useful evidence Mr. Justice McEwan pointed out that “what any given doctor ‘believes’ is only helpful to the extent taht the underlying information is plausible by the standards of the court“.
To this end, the The Plaintiff’s credibility and reliability were put squarely at issue in this trial. The Defence lawyer argued that credibility was central to this case and engaged in an extensive cross examination relating to the Plaintiff’s credibility as a witness. Portions of this cross examination are set out in paragraphs 15-18 and these give good insight into what cross-examination can be like in Injury Litigation. Ultimately Mr. Justice McEwan held that the plaintiff gave some “unusual” and “inconsistent” evidence and that “he quite clearly cannot be relied upon for the accuracy of his observations about his condition“.