Tag: free consultation

"Please My Lord, No Jury For My ICBC Claim"

Did you know that either side to an ICBC claim in BC Supeme Court can elect trial by Jury (unless of course the claim is being prosecuted under Rule 66 or 68).
One of the practical effects of trial by Jury is that it makes claims longer and more expensive. I won’t get into all the reasons of why this is at this time but it is generally true.
ICBC often sets claims for jury trials when they involve Low Velocity Impacts or involve injuries with little objective verification.
What if you don’t want a trial by Jury? Can you do anything about it? The answer is sometimes.
Rule 39(27) of the BC Supreme Court rules deals with when a court may refuse a jury trial. One of the main challenges to trial by Jury is that the claims is to complex for the jury to deal with.
Such an applicaiton was brought recently and rejected by Master Tokarek who released written reasons for his decision today.
In this case the Plaintiff sued for various injuries sustained in a series of 4 accidents. In this case there was a significant amount of medical evidence that the Jury would have to deal with. The Plaintiff tried to get rid of ICBC’s jury notice arguing that “in light of all of the available reports, this matter is too complex and intricate for a jury to deal with“.
The court rejected this argument finding that
My impression, upon reading those reports, is that although there are a great many reports to deal with, they do not strike me as being overly complex or difficult. In fact, one or more of the reports, the exact numbers of which I neglect to make a note of so I cannot refer specifically to them in these reasons, but nevertheless one or more of these reports struck me as being very impressive in the way in which the author laid out in layman’s terms some of the definitions and explanations of what the symptoms and injuries were all about……There is in British Columbia, as plaintiff’s counsel candidly admitted, a very strong right to a party to choose a trial by jury, subject to the restrictions imposed by legislation, and therefore the onus does fall to the plaintiff to make its case that the defendant ought not to have its right to a jury trial. As I have said, I believe that the plaintiff has fallen short of satisfying that onus in this particular case.

Cyclist 100% At Fault for Collision with Concrete Mixer Truck

Reasons for judgment were released today finding a Plaintiff cyclist 100% at fault for a 2004 collision between his bicycle and a concrete mixer truck.
The collision was significant and resulted in severe injuries. In order for these to be compensable someone needs to be at fault for them. That’s what this trial focused on.
Here the Plaintiff was driving on the shoulder of the roadway approaching an intersection. The concrete mixer truck was attempting a right hand turn and the Plaintiff collided with the truck.
The court made some useful comments about the duties of cyclists who choose to drive on the shoulder of the road rather than on the roadway itself, namely that:

[55] The evidence clearly establishes that Mr. Sivasubramaniam failed to meet the standard of care required of a driver in the circumstances, and that he was negligent. He was driving on the shoulder of the roadway, rather than in the lane marked for vehicle travel. I accept that it would also have been hazardous for Mr. Sivasubramaniam to ride in a driving lane on such a busy street, but having chosen to ride in an area that is not designated for vehicles; and to pass vehicles on the right hand side while travelling in that area, Mr. Sivasubramaniam had a duty to take extra care to ensure that he was visible to drivers, and that he took precautions. This was particularly so as he approached a busy intersection. Options available to him included signalling and moving into the driving lane to his left when it was safe to do so, and proceeding through the intersection in that driving lane; or stopping and dismounting from his bicycle and crossing the intersection in the pedestrian crosswalk and then remounting his vehicle on the other side of Blue Mountain Street.

[56] At the very least, he ought to have slowed his bicycle and to have checked carefully for indications that vehicles were intending to turn right from Lougheed Highway onto Blue Mountain Street, before proceeding across the intersection to the right of traffic in the driving lanes.

[57] Instead of driving in a cautious fashion, I conclude that Mr. Sivasubramaniam was accelerating as he approached the intersection, and, as I have said earlier, steered to the right with the intention of either riding in the cross walk – a prohibited act – or riding near it.

The court summarized its findings at pargaraph 67 of the judgement concluding that the cyclist was 100% at fault stating that:
The evidence compels me to conclude that for some unknown reason, Mr. Sivasubramaniam simply failed to note the fact that Mr. Franz’s vehicle not only was intending to turn right, but had commenced that turn, and he failed to slow or stop his bicycle until it was too late to do so. Mr. Sivasubramaniam assumed, incorrectly, that the concrete mixer truck would proceed straight through the intersection. He made this assumption despite his knowledge that vehicles frequently do turn right at this intersection, and despite the signal flashing in several locations on the concrete mixer truck. Rather than slowing or stopping his bicycle as he approached the intersection, he was, I conclude, accelerating by continuing to pedal on the downward slope.

ICBC, Aggravation of Prior Injuries and "Failure to Mitigate"

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court awarding damages to a Plaintiff as a result of a 2003 rear-end accident.
In this case the court found that the Plaintiff ‘had significant problems with her neck and back prior to the 2003 collision…..that the collision markedly aggravated her pre-existing condition. Her level of functioning has gradually improved between the time of the collision and the time of the trial….(although) she continues to suffer greater pain and disability than she did before the collision.
In valuing the Plaintiff’s accident related pain and suffering at $50,000, the court made the following findings:
It is clear that Ms. Antoniali was suffering from a previous injury to her back and neck at the time of the November 2003 collision. I am satisfied that the November collision caused substantial new or aggravated injury to Ms. Antoniali’s lower and mid back. She has suffered substantial disability, pain and suffering for the approximately four and one-half years since the collision. She has not been able to engage in most of the recreational pursuits that she engaged in before the collision. Her enjoyment of her new role as a mother has been negatively impacted. However, not all of the pain and disability she suffered during this period was attributable to the November collision. In the absence of the new injury she suffered in that collision she would have been troubled by the likely continuation of her pre-collision back and neck difficulties. I am satisfied that an award of $50,000 for non-pecuniary general damages for her collision related injuries, both past and future, is appropriate to reflect her loss. I assign those damages approximately equally to the pre-trial and post-trial periods.
In addition to interesting comments made about the aggravation of pre-existing injuries, the court made some key findings regarding ‘failure to mitigate’.
When a person is injured in a BC car crash and makes and ICBC tort claim, that person has a duty to take reasonable steps to minimize their losses. This is called the ‘duty to mitigate’. In this case the court found that the Plaintiff did fail to mitigate her losses and reduced some of her damages by up to 50% as a result of this failure. The key finding fueling this decision was that the Plaintiff’s symptoms would have been lessened had she followed the recommended program of stretching and exercises recommended by her physician.
In discussing the law of failure to mitigate Mr. Justice Preston referenced some well known passages canvassing this area of the law – for your convenience I will reproduce these below:
From Graham v. Rogers

Mitigation goes to limit recovery based on an unreasonable failure of the injured party to take reasonable steps to limit his or her loss. A plaintiff in a personal injury action has a positive duty to mitigate but if a defendant’s position is that a plaintiff could reasonably have avoided some part of the loss, the defendant bears the onus of proof on that issue.

From Humphrey v. Rancier Estate

Another issue in assessment of damages, both non-pecuniary and pecuniary, is the plaintiff’s alleged failure to mitigate. The plaintiff has followed all her medical advice with the exception of reducing her weight. She was grossly obese before the accident, weighing about 260 pounds; she is not quite five feet tall. She now weighs over 200 pounds and continues to be grossly obese. There is no doubt on the medical evidence and the evidence of the therapists that her disability and pain would be less if she lost a considerable amount of weight.

The question is whether the plaintiff has taken reasonable steps to minimize her loss. The court must assess whether this test has been met by looking at all the circumstances of the case. Here we have an obese lady before the accident – someone who had been obese all her adult life. Her brother and sister are both obese. She appears, as her counsel put it, to be a weak woman in the sense that she has not had very good success at controlling her smoking or her eating on a consistent basis in the past despite medical advice and despite her clear efforts. She has tried to lose weight and has succeeded to an extent, at least temporarily. She is still trying, she says.

Of equal importance to the principle that the plaintiff must act reasonably in minimizing her loss and her damages, is another principle, namely that the defendant takes his victim as he finds him or her. In the circumstances in this case, given the plaintiff’s pre-accident history of obesity, given her particular personality, given her honest efforts from time to time to lose weight and kept it off, I am not satisfied that it can be said that the plaintiff has acted unreasonably and has failed to mitigate her damages, with the result that her damages should be lessened because she has not lost weight.

From Sagave v. Townsend

A defendant who injures a plaintiff is not entitled to expect perfection from the injured person in pursuing rehabilitation. The plaintiff must be reasonable and sincere in her efforts to promote recovery. The plaintiff was less than perfect, and undoubtedly paid a price in pain and discomfort on occasion. I accept however the plaintiff met a reasonable standard of care concerning exercise with regard to her own rehabilitation.

The defendant has not met the onus of proof required for the plaintiff to be found to have contributed to her own damages. In the assessment of her non-pecuniary damages however I have taken account of the need for the plaintiff to follow an almost daily regime in the future and assumed she will benefit accordingly.

This case serves as a striking example that an unreasonable failure to follow medical advice can have a severe impact on an ICBC claim. Here the Plaintiff’s awards for post trial pain and suffering, post trial loss of earning capacity and post trial cost of medical care were reduced by 50%!

$75,000 Pain and Suffering Awarded to Cyclist Injurd in Car Accident

OK, I’m back in Kelowna, but this time more for pleasure than business, so this case summary will be a little light on the usual details.
Reasons for judgement were relesed today finding a motorist at fault for a 2003 impact with a cyclist. The Plaintiff suffered serious injuries and was awarded close to $500,000 in compensation for his losses and injuries.
In this case the cyclist was travelling on the side-walk. This is prohibited in law but simply violating the motor vehicle act does not automatically make one negligent for an accident. In this case the court found that while the cyclist was unlawfully riding on the sidewalk, he was not responsible for the accident because this did not cause the accident, rather
the accident was caused by (the Defendant) either failing to stop his vehicle before driving across the sidewalk in accordance with s. 176(1) of the Act, or by failing to look to his right before starting motion after looking away for a period of time during which a person could have appeared to the right of his vehicle.”
Here the court found that the Plaintiff was a credible witness that did not exaggerate his symptoms. The injuries were summarized by the Plaintiff’s treating family physician as follows:
fracture of the distal tibia, laceration of his scalp, laceration of his left shin, post-traumatic periostitis of the left shin, a partial tear of his anterior tibiofubular ligament (an ankle ligament) and retrocalcaneal bursitis (a bursa in the ankle/heel area).
In other words, a very serious ankle injury.  Evidence was also led that the Plaintiff suffered from a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) and that this resulted in some on-going cognitive problems.
The Plaintiff was a young man who suffered from a significant period of disability and there was evidence of some permanent partial disability.
Damages were assessed as follows:

a. Cost of future care: $73,078.00

b. Lost wages: $185,684.40 less the amount actually earned by the Plaintiff from December 3, 2003 to the date of trial;

c. Loss of future wages: $72,526.40.

d. Loss of earning capacity: $80,000.00

e. Non-pecuniary damages: $75,000.00

f. Special damages: $2,811.45.

g. In-trust claim: $14,040.00

$70,000 Pain and Suffering for Neck Injury and Debilitating Headaches

In reasons for judgement released today, Mr. Justice Bernard of the BC Supreme Court awarded a Plaintiff just over $200,000 in compensation for losses as a result of a 2005 BC car accident.
The accident involved a left-hand turning defendant who failed to see the Plaintiff’s vehicle. The result was a significant, near head on collision. Fault was admitted leaving only the issue of quantum of damages to be decided at trial.
The court’s key findings of fact were made at paragraphs 34-35 of the judgement where it was held that the Plaintiff suffered from debilitating headaches as a result of the BC car crash, that the headaches continue to plague him and that the source of these headaches is the neck injury the Plaintiff suffered in the crash. The court also found that these injuries where likely to plague the Plaintiff for 3-5 years following the trial.
The Plaintiff was a young man starting out in a career in the entertainment industry. The court accepted that the injuries took away his ability to take full advantage of various opportunities that were open to him in his career and this ‘loss of oportunity’ will continue into the future as a result of the on-going injuries.
In the end the court assessed damages as follows:

Non-pecuniary $70,000

Special $5,642

Loss of Opportunity $125,000

Future Care $14,520

This case is interesting for the court’s comments on the use of the various doctor’s clinical records at trial. As any ICBC claims lawyer knows, Plaintiff’s in personal injury claims are often exposed to hard cross-examinations based on previously recorded statements contained in medical records.
When you go to the doctor he/she usually notes your complaints. These ‘clinical notes’ are often put to use by ICBC lawyers to cross examine a Plaintiff’s testimony discussing the extent of injuries and symptoms. Here, the court found that the Plaintiff held up to cross examination very well and made some very practical comments about the reliability of clinical records, namely:

[35] I accept (the Plaintiff’s) evidence in regard to the onset of the headaches, and their intensity, frequency, and endurance. Efforts to discredit him with alleged inconsistencies in doctors’ clinical notes were, in my view, not successful. It must be borne in mind that the primary objective of physicians’ clinical notes is to refresh their own memories as to what transpired during a clinical examination, for the purposes of medical treatment. These notes are not made for investigative and litigation purposes. If this were the purpose then it would, in my opinion, be important for physicians to ensure that they have accurately recorded full and detailed accounts of what a patient said during a clinical visit and then have the patient verify the accuracy of the notes.

[36] Physicians are not investigators. They are neither trained to accurately record what a person says nor to draw out a fulsome account for litigation purposes. The use of clinicians’ notes, made hastily during a clinical visit and never reviewed for accuracy by the patient, may operate unfairly to the patient as plaintiff or witness. It should also be borne in mind that when a patient sees his or her physician with a complaint of significant pain, the circumstances are far less from ideal for obtaining full and accurate information.

[37] I do not suggest by any of the foregoing that it is impermissible to use clinical notes to challenge a plaintiff’s credibility, but the frailties inherent in such recordings should be recognized. In the instant case, I find that the clinician’s notes do not have sufficient accuracy and reliability to undermine the plaintiff’s evidence where the notes allegedly differ from the plaintiff’s testimony at trial.

Another ICBC Intersection Crash

I’ve said it before an I’ll say it again, the issue of FAULT and ICBC claims tends to be most heavily disputed when dealing with left hand turning vehicles in intersection crashes.
Reasons for judgement were released today determining fault as a result of a 2004 intersection crash that occurred in Vernon, BC.
The Plaintiff was travelling through the intersection. The Defendant, travelling from the opposite direction, was intending to make a left hand turn. A significant collision happened. The issue of fault was decided by Mr. Justice Brooke.
This is an interesting case because it appears that the Plaintiff suffered a serious brain injury (a frontal lobe injury) as a result of this crash. When motorists suffer from brain injuries in car accidents it is not unusual for them to suffer a period of amnesia, either before, during or after the event. Here it appears that the trauma of the crash caused the Plaintiff to have no recall of the crash.
How then, do you prove your case when you can’t remember what happened? This case shows some of the usual trial strategies in such a situation. In this case the defendant’s examination for discovery transcript was utilized, lay witnesses were called, the investigating police officer who took scene measurements was called as to where expert accident reconstruction witnesses.
In the end the court found that the Plaintiff vehicle was speeding at the time of the crash and that the left turning driver failed to see a ‘dominant’ vehcile that was ‘there to be seen’. The court reference s. 174 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act in finding the left hand turner largely at fault. The court also found the speeding ‘through’ driver at fault.
In BC personal injury claims, if both parties are at fault the court has to determine the degree of fault of each party. Here the court assigned 20% of the blame to the speeding through vehicle and 80% against the left hand turning vehicle.
One matter worth noting is the effect of the traffic ticket. Here the defendant was ticketed for ‘failing to yield on a left-hand turn.’. He paid the ticket. Such an act is an ‘admission against interest’ and a court can use this ‘admission’ to help decide who is at fault. However, such an admission is not binding on the court. Here the defendant testified that when he gets a ticket he pays it. The court found him to be a straighforward and credible witness and accpeted that in not disputing the ticket that spoke to his characger rather than admission of fault.

ICBC Claims and your Vacation Photos

I’m still in (not so sunny today) Kelowna (currently on break during an icbc claim examination for discovery), so bear with me as this blog entry is a little lighter on detail than I would like.
As most ICBC injury claims lawyers know these claims can go on for years, particularly when dealing with severe injuries.
During these years you go on living life as normally as possible. You go to work, school, play sports, socialize with friends, go on holidays etc. Like most people, you probably take photos of your activities from time to time. Did you know that ICBC can sometimes get their hands on these?
Reasons for judgement were released today forcing a Plaintiff involved in a BC injury claim to produce to the Defendant any photos of him on vacation after the accident. These applicaitons are routinely made by ICBC defence lawyers and are sometimes successful.
Here the court did a great job in referring to sevaral precedents where courts have either ordered, or refused to order, the production of holiday photos of a party to a lawsuit. These cases are worth reviewing when deciding how to respond to an ICBC request that private photos be shared with them in their efforts to defend against an injury claim.
The court concluded that:
12] Here counsel on behalf of the plaintiff points out there should be evidence of the existence of photographs and then if it is established that photographs exist, that they be shown to be relevant. He also raises the issue of others being in photographs and those other people having privacy rights.

[13] I am satisfied here that the fact of the plaintiff having been on vacation is such that one can presume there are some photographs having been taken, whether by the plaintiff or by others, and of course if the plaintiff is not in the possession or control of photographs taken then nothing need be produced by the plaintiff.

[14] It is my understanding there is a discovery scheduled for the 12th of August of this year, and although the trial is not set until the 23rd of March, ’09, I am satisfied it is not a sufficient stretch, if you will, to require there to be proof of holiday or vacation photographs prior to ordering that they be produced.

[15] So far as the privacy issues relating to others is concerned, the only interest the defendant has is in the activities of the plaintiff. The plaintiff claims damages for loss of enjoyment of life and injury to portions of the plaintiff’s anatomy as were injured in a 1998 workplace injury. There is a significant likelihood of probative value in vacation photographs, the vacation having been taken at a time when he states he was disabled from carrying on his normal work duties. Apparently the holiday in the Dominican Republic was some time between the 15th of December and the 13th of January and took place after the 6 November motor vehicle accident.

[16] So I am satisfied that there should an order go that vacation photographs taken during that time frame of the vacation to the Dominican Republic be produced, but that it be at the option of the plaintiff to delete the facial features of any persons other than himself in the photographs.

One thing all of you should know is this – If you take photos and publish them on the internet (myspace, facebook etc.) these become public and ICBC can verly likely get access to these. As an ICBC claims lawyer I have seen many instances of ICBC tracking down such photos and using these in the defence of personal injury claims.

What is more troubling is when ICBC tries to get access to clealry private photos. Cases such as this one are worth reviewing for anyone concerned about personal privacy and their ICBC claim.

"On the Road Again…" ICBC claims and Litigation Privilege

As an ICBC claims lawyer I find myself frequently traveling throughout BC representing clients involved in ICBC claims. This week I’m back in one of my favourite destinations (particularly this time of year), sunny Kelowna, BC. The lake, the heat, what’s not to love?
I try to minimize the amount that travel interferes with business as usual, but despite my best efforts the responsibilities of life on the road do get in the way, so here is the ‘travel version’ of my reporting on recent ICBC claims…
Litigation Privilege. An ICBC claims lawyer representing his/her clients may come into the possession of privileged information. One of the most common types of privilege claimed over evidence by ICBC claims lawyers is the medico-legal report.
When a lawyer obtains a report providing an opinion as to the extent of injury caused in a BC car accident that report may very well be privileged and not disclosed to ICBC. The problem is, oftentimes a privately paid report authored by an independent physician or other hired expert may provide useful rehabilitation advice for a client. So the question is, can such a report be disclosed to the client’s treating physician to better aid in rehabilitation without waiving legal privilege and forcing disclosure to ICBC? A judgement released today seems to say that this can in fact be done.
In this case the Plaintiff had 2 claims, the first being the ‘tort claim’ meaning the claim against the motorist who injured the Plaintiff (who happens to be insured by ICBC) and a ‘part 7 claim’ meaning a claim against ICBC directly for the enforcement of any ‘no fault benefits’ that may be owing as a result of the same BC car accident.
The Plaintiff’s lawyer obtained a report that made some rehabilitation recommendations. This report was shared with the Plaintiff’s treating physician who adopted some of the recommended treatments. The ICBC defence lawyer argued that this disclosure ‘waived’ the claim for privilege. The Plaintiff lawyer disagreed. The ICBC defence lawyer made a motion asking the BC Supreme Court to order that the privately hired report be handed over to ICBC. Master Caldwell of the BC Supreme Court dismissed the motion stating that:
I am unaware of any authority which would dictate that reports which are prepared for purposes of litigation but which are provided to an individuals GP for treatment purposes lose the protection of privilege. No such authority was provided to me.
This is a great result for Plaintiff’s involved in ICBC claims and is certainly must reading for an ICBC claims Plaintiff lawyer who wishes to share a private report with a client’s treating doctor for treatment purposes.

Disc Herniation, Nerve Damage and ICBC Claims

Reasons for judgement were released today compensating a Plaintiff injured in three separate BC car accidents, the first in August, 2002, the second in December, 2002 and the third in June 2003. At trial the issues were the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and whether these were caused by the car accidents or other life events.
A frequent tactic of ICBC defence lawyers is to call evidence to cast doubt on the connection between motor vehicle accidents and trauma and find other explanations for injuries. In this case the defence lawyer pointed to a car accident that the plaintiff was at fault for and a work incident where the plaintiff aggravated his back as potential causes for the Plaintiff’s problems.
In ICBC claims a Plaintiff has the burden of proving the extent of his injuries and their connection to the car accident. If defence evidence can effectively point to another explanation an ICBC claim can be dismissed.
In this case the injuries were fairly serious. An MRI revealed a ‘tear in the annulus at L5/Ss and a disc bulge at L4/5 wit impingement of the L5 nerve root‘.
The court found that in cases where there are multiple potential causes of injury ‘it is most helpful to have the opinion of (the Plaintiff’s family doctor) who treated the plaintiff throughout and has a long history and detailed knowledge of the Plaintiff as a patient.’ The court found the GP’s findings of objective injury persuasive including ‘muscle spasm, reduced range of motion, and visible hypertonicity of the musculature following each of the three motor vehicle accidents’.
The court assessed damages for all three accidents globally. The court concluded that “the Plaintiff has, since December 7, 2002, experienced functional limitations due to his low, mid back, and neck pain with referral pain from the low back to his leg. The Plaintiff is unlikely to achieve a substantial improvement in future, but exercises and care will assist in controlling pain and flare-ups‘. As a result of this finding the court awarded $70,000 for non-pecuniary damages (pain and suffering).
Addressing past wage the court found that there was some failure of mitigation on the Plaintiff’s part. The Plaintiff’s claim for past wage loss exceeded 5 years. The court found that he could have returned to work in some capacity during this time. In all $50,000 was awarded for this loss.
The court also awarded $75,000 in damages for ‘loss of future earning capacity’ finding that

[50] There is no doubt that the plaintiff’s income earning capacity is affected by his chronic pain and physical limitations and disabilities. The plaintiff is by education and experience limited to low income, minimum wage types of employment, although that is reflective of his actual earnings history prior to his injury and disability.

[51] The pool of low income jobs available to the plaintiff is however much diminished as he can no longer work at jobs with a physical component which he can no longer meet. The plaintiff is 49 years old and increasing age will combine to impede access to the work for which he remains qualified.

[52] The plaintiff’s health may be stressed more than the average person requiring that he take more time off work. He may in future be more suited to only part time or work of a sporadic nature.

More on Soft Tissue Injuries, ICBC, and Expert Evidence

Reasons for judgement were released today awarding a Plaintiff $12,000 for ‘pain and suffering and loss of amenities‘ (non-pecuniary damages) for ‘a mild soft tissue injury which had essentially cleared within 3 months or so. ‘.
The Plaintiff was rear-ended in 2006 in North Vancouver. The court found that the impact was significant. The Plaintiff complained of headaches, neck pain, low back pain, mid back pain, left elbow and forearm pain and occasional pain shooting to his knees.
In what can be described as a very unusual occurrence, the trial proceeded without any medical opinion evidence addressing the extent of injury. The Plaintiff attempted to have his GP testify but the court would not permit it as proper notice of the ‘expert opinion’ was not provided per Rule 40-A.
The court admitted the doctor’s clinical notes into evidence. The Plaintiff then tried to treat these as notice of what the doctor was going to testify to. The court found this improper and did not permit the doctor to give opinion evidence stating that:

During the trial and following submissions on the issue, I ruled that medical/clinical records cannot be said to meet what was meant by the above-quoted Rule.

[12] In my view, the basis of Rule 40A is to provide adequate notice of evidence which is to be tendered by way of an expert’s opinion to avoid trial by ambush, to avoid unnecessary delays, and to generally permit trials to be run in an orderly fashion. Use of clinical records in the manner suggested by counsel for the plaintiff does not approach, let alone meet, that objective. Rarely is a concise and clear expression of any opinion capable of being gleaned from such records, provided that they can even be deciphered, which is indeed problematic in this case. Further, there is usually nothing in those records that might clearly identify what, if any, of the facts contained therein are being relied upon for any such opinion. Finally, clinical records often contain consultation reports which, while they may be evidence of their existence, most probably cannot be relied upon without proof of the facts or opinions contained in them. I am sure that there are other objections as well.

[13] To have permitted Dr. Marcos to testify as to his opinion on the basis that his clinical records amounted to compliance with Rule 40A would, in my view, have been impermissibly prejudicial to the defendant. In that regard I note that in this case none of the grounds enumerated in Rule 40A(16) had been met. Thus, I am faced with the task of assessing damages due to Mr. Murray based upon his largely uncorroborated testimony alone. I am obliged to be mindful of the observation of Chief Justice McEachern in Price and Kostryba where he said the following:

I am not stating any new principle when I say that the Court should be exceedingly careful when there is little or no objective evidence of continuing injury and when complaints of pain persist for long periods extending beyond the normal or usual recovery.

An injured person is entitled to be fully and properly compensated for any injury or disability caused by a wrongdoer. But no one can expect his fellow citizen or citizens to compensate him in the absence of convincing evidence — which could be just his own evidence if the surrounding circumstances are consistent — that his complaints of pain are true reflections of a continuing injury.

The court went onto award $12,000 for pain and suffering and $180 for special damages.
This case is a great reminder of the need to comply with Rule 40-A if you are advancing an ICBC injury claim in Supreme Court and wish to call expert evidence to give the court an opinion about injuries, causation, future treatment, and prognosis. Failure to do so can result in the court not admitting the evidence which can badly damage an ICBC claim. Here the court expressly stated that “although an opinion of a medical expert such as a medical/legal report from (the Plaintiff’s) GP may have provided a foundation for a factual finding of continuing pain and discomfort, I unfortunately do not have the benefit of such an opinion.
Another note-worthy result of this judgement is the apparent ‘cost’ consequences.
From reading paragraphs 25-29 of the judgement it appears that the lawyer for the defendant made a formal offer of settlement prior to trial which was greater than the judgement. In such circumstances a defendant can be awarded ‘costs’ for the trial. In this case the court awarded $4,400 in costs which would have to be subtracted from the judgement amount prior to the Plaintiff getting paid. In addition, the Plaintiff would not be reimbursed disbursements for the trial and would be responsible for the Defendant’s trial disbursements. After taking all this into account the true value of the judgement may in fact be $0. When considering ICBC claim settlement it is very important to consider the likelihood of beating ICBC’s formal offer at trial.

Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

ERIK
MAGRAKEN

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.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
Erik’s Philosophy

Disclaimer