Tag: Rizzotti v. Doe

$110,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Psychological Injuries Following Fatal Collision

Adding to this site’s database of archives caselaw addressing psychological injuries, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages following psychological injuries following a severe motor vehicle collision.
In last week’s case (Rizzotti v. Doe) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 head-on collision.   The crash was significant killing the driver of the offending vehicle.  Fault was admitted.  The Plaintiff suffered from psychological injuries following this crash including PTSD, depression and an adjustment disorder.
The Plaintiff’s injuries were aggravated in two subsequent collisions.  All three cases were heard together and damages were assessed globally.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $110,000 Mr. Justice Tindale provided the following reasons:

]The plaintiff was clearly involved in a serious head-on collision in 2005. She sustained injuries of a physical nature and a psychological nature. The evidence is clear that the first accident caused the majority of the injuries to the plaintiff while the other two accidents exacerbated her condition.

[76]The medical evidence is clear that the physical injuries were caused by the accidents. The medical evidence is also clear that her psychological injuries were caused by the accidents.

[77]Dr. Anderson diagnosed the plaintiff as having ongoing depressive symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of chronic adjustment disorder with depressed mood. He also diagnosed the plaintiff with having chronic post-traumatic stress disorder in partial remission.

[78]The psychologist, Dr. Kettner, also diagnosed her with having post-traumatic stress disorder. Both doctors Anderson and Kettner had the advantage of personally interviewing the plaintiff.

[79]Dr. Levin agreed with the diagnosis of adjustment disorder with depressed mood however he did not feel that the plaintiff had post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Levin only reviewed the medical documentation and did not interview the plaintiff.

[80]I prefer the evidence of Dr. Anderson and Dr. Kettner over that of Dr. Levin as they were able to personally interview the plaintiff.

[81]The evidence in this case clearly indicates that the plaintiff suffered physical injuries which are long-standing and chronic in nature as well as a serious psychological injury.

[82]The defendants have not discharged their onus that the plaintiff failed to mitigate her losses by failing to take medication. The evidence does not disclose on a balance of probabilities that she was prescribed antidepressant medication. Also, with regard to the plaintiff declining to have injections in her hip, there is no evidence that this delayed her recovery. She also gave evidence that she was afraid of injections, which I accept

[83]The appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages is $110,000.00.

Defence Medical Doctor Given "Very Little Weight" For Failing to Examine Plaintiff

As previously discussed, the failure of a doctor to examine a Plaintiff is not, in and of itself, a barrier to the physician from providing opinion evidence to the BC Supreme Court, however, often little weight is attached to a doctor’s opinion in such circumstances. This was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.
In this week’s case (Rizzotti v. Doe) the Plaintiff suffered psychological injuries in a serious collision in which the offending motorist died. At trial the Plaintiff tendered expert evidence addressing the extent of her injuries. The Defendant tendered a report from a psychiatrist, Dr. Levin, who disagreed with the Plaintiff’s experts with respect to the extent of her accident realted psychological injuries.
Dr. Levin did not examine the Plaintiff prior to authoring his report and in the course of trial acknowledged that “that he could not do a proper assessment without interviewing the plaintiff“. The court accordingly provided little wieght on Dr. Levin’s opinion and provided the following reasons:
[27] Dr. Levin is a psychiatrist tendered by the defendants as rebuttal evidence to the opinion of Dr. Anderson. The plaintiff objected to the admissibility of Dr. Levin’s report during this trial. I declared a voir dire to allow the plaintiff to cross-examine Dr. Levin and make argument as to the admissibility of the report. I ultimately found that the report was admissible, however I initially told counsel that I would be putting very little weight on the report as Dr. Levin did not interview the plaintiff…

34] For the above noted reasons I ruled Dr. Levin’s report admissible and I ruled that his evidence on the voir dire would form evidence on the trial proper.

[35] I have already explained that I am putting little weight on Dr. Levin’s report because he did not interview the plaintiff. Dr. Levin himself testified that he could not do a proper assessment without interviewing the plaintiff.

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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.

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