Private MRI Cost Recovered as Special Damages in Injury Claim
Further to my recent post on this topic, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing the recovery of private MRI costs in a personal injury lawsuit.
In last week’s case (Piper v. Hassan) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 rear-end collision. The Defendant admitted fault for the crash. The Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries and an aggravation of pre-existing back pain and depression. The Plaintiff sought substantial damages at trial although much of the claim was not accepted with the Court finding that much of the Plaintiff’s symptoms would have occurred absent the collision due to pre-existing degenerative changes in the plaintiff’s back.
In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff obtained a private MRI. At trial the Plaintiff sought to recover the cost associated with this. The Defendant opposed this arguing it was not a reasonable expense. Mr. Justice Pearlman disagreed and allowed recovery of this item. In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
 Mr. Piper also paid $1,975 for the full spine MRI performed May 18, 2007. The defendant submits this was an unnecessary expense. I disagree. Dr. McGrath had recommended an MRI study. At a time when the plaintiff was experiencing increased back pain and sought medical advice to determine its cause and possible treatment, it was not unreasonable for him to pay for a private MRI, rather than wait in line for publicly funded radiology. The full spine MRI assisted both Dr. Yu and Dr. McGraw in their diagnoses of the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries attributable to the motor vehicle accident, showed the progression of degenerative changes to the plaintiff’s spine, and aided Dr. McGraw in forming his opinion that the plaintiff had not suffered a disc herniation. I find that the plaintiff is entitled to recover $1,975 for the MRI study.