MRI Disbursement Allowed Where Expense Incurred for Dual Purposes

Reasons for judgment were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, allowing the costs associated with a private MRI to be recovered as a disbursement in a personal injury claim.
In last week’s case (Wu v. Ly) the plaintiff commissioned a private MRI following a motor vehicle collision.  This was done following a recommendation of her treating physician.  In allowing this disbursement to be recovered District Registrar Cameron provided the following brief reasons:
[7]             In Colasimone v. Ng and Mo, 2007 BCSC 1179, Madam Justice Gropper was dealing with an appeal of a decision of District Registrar Blok (as he then was) that allowed the cost of MRI scans as a taxable disbursement.  Her Ladyship notes:
In his reasons for judgment Registrar Blok describes MRI scans as presenting a “special problem in considering party and party bill of costs.”  He notes that MRI scans can be used for either or both treatment and litigation and sometimes the line is blurred. The Registrar concludes:
I am satisfied that a sufficient litigation purpose was shown on the evidence before me such that the disbursement was reasonably incurred, necessary and proper in a litigation purpose.  Specifically the purpose here was for Mr. Maryn to make a decision about the impending trial.
Registrar Blok has considered the “special problem” that MRI scans present in his decision of Ward v. W.S. Lessing Ltd., 2007 BCSC 877.  He comments that the cost of MRI scans have been allowed and disallowed as a disbursement.  There are cases which support either position, but as the Registrar notes, each turns on its facts.  The Registrar continues:
If an MRI was performed for the purposes of treatment, then it may be claimed as an item of special damages.  If it is used as an aid in the litigation process, then it is properly claimed as a disbursement on a party and party bill of costs.  Those are the typical questions that are dealt with when MRIs are at issue.
[T]here must be some judgment applied, perhaps with medical input, in considering the necessity for the procedure in a litigation context, given the injuries involved, the likely damages, what the MRI is expected to achieve from a litigation standpoint and so on.
[8]             In paragraph 22 of her decision, Her Ladyship concludes by saying, having reviewed all of the evidence:
Thus the scans were for two purposes:  to determine the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and for treatment purposes.
[9]             In the result Madam Justice Gropper upheld the Registrar’s decision, finding he did not clearly err in finding that the disbursement related to MRI scans was reasonably, necessarily and properly incurred for the purposes of the litigation.
[10]         In this case there is evidence before me that the impetus for the MRI was from Dr. le Nobel, who was a treating physician for the Plaintiff and who was continuing to suffer ongoing pain and discomfort some four years following the motor vehicle accident.  Because of Dr. le Nobel’s concern about her continuing symptoms and to better assess them, he recommended that an MRI examination be done.
[11]         Mr. Wiseman was involved as counsel in the process and pointed out that the cost for the MRI examination was one that was paid directly by him.  He was concerned to have the best evidence available to serve as a foundation to most reliably assess the Plaintiff’s claim for damages. I am satisfied that this is one of those cases where the MRI was obtained for two purposes being  for diagnosis and also to assist the Plaintiff and her counsel in better evaluate and present her claim for damages.
[12]         Mr. Chalcraft did not take any issue with the cost of the MRI other than to object to the claim for interest.  Mr. Wiseman abandoned the claim for interest, and as a result the MRI disbursement is allowed as claimed in the sum of $1,595.

bc injury law, District Registrar Cameron, MRI, MRI as disbursement

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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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