"Textbook Example of Failure to Mitigate" Leads to Over $100,000 of Stripped Damages
It pays to take reasonable efforts to get better. Not only does it make good sense to take all reasonable steps to recover from injury for the sake of your well being but failing to do so can strip significant damages from a personal injury award. Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, dealing with a “textbook” example of this.
In this week’s case (Maltese v. Pratap) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2008 collision. The Defendant admitted fault. The Plaintiff was injured which continued to cause problems by the time of trial and were expected to continue in the future. The court noted that the Plaintiff received “remarkably similar” treatment advice which he unreasonably refused to follow. The Court reduced the awarded damages by just over $100,000 and further stripped the Plaintiff of future care costs on the basis that “it is entriely unlikely” that the Plaintiff would follow the recommended treatments. In reaching this conclusion Mr. Justice Kelleher provided the following reasons:
 The facts of this case represent a textbook example of a failure to mitigate. There is a consensus among the professionals who assessed and treated the plaintiff that Mr. Maltese needed to undertake a program of physical rehabilitation and fitness with a kinesiologist or personal trainer. Their recommendations are remarkably similar. Mr. Maltese has chosen to ignore them…
 I am satisfied that the first stage of the test in Gregory has been met: I have no difficulty concluding that Mr. Maltese, having all the information at hand that he possessed at the time, ought reasonably to have undergone the recommended treatment of active rehabilitation through a kinesiologist or personal trainer.
 Among other reasons, Mr. Maltese submitted that because he felt worse after attending physiotherapy, he made a decision to not pursue an active rehabilitation program. I cannot accede to this argument. The medical evidence taken as a whole also establishes that, on a balance of probabilities, there would have been a significant improvement in the plaintiff’s condition or a reduction in his damages.
 On such a clear case, a reduction of 30% in the awards for non-pecuniary damages, wage loss after his return to work and loss of future earning capacity is appropriate…
 In this regard, the plaintiff relies on the fact that Drs. Travlos, le Noble, Chan and Kokan all recommended an active rehabilitation program. The plaintiff argued that there is a consensus among these physicians that he needs to recondition himself and would benefit from the assistance of a kinesiologist or personal trainer.
 But there must be a likelihood that a plaintiff will incur costs before an award can be made under this head of damages. I conclude that it is entirely unlikely that Mr. Maltese will avail himself of these services in the future. After all, the plaintiff has been advised by medical professionals on numerous occasions to engage in active reconditioning. He has not done so. I conclude an award for cost future care costs in these circumstances is inappropriate: Izony v. Weidlich, 2006 BCSC 1315 at para. 74.