Another Example of the Unintended Consequences of Personal Injury Trials
When an injury claim proceeds to trial the case becomes one of public record. The public nature of the proceedings can lead to unintended consequences such as creating a papertrail for Revenue Canada to go after undeclared past earnings.
Another unintended consequence of the open trial process was highlighted in reasons for judgement released this month by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry. In the recent case the Plaintiff was injured in a 2007 collision. He missed some time from work initially but returned to work in 2008 and had “been performing the work duties assigned to him” since that time. The Plaintiff sought damages for diminished earning capacity and in support of this claim tendered medical evidence speaking to his physical limitations. When his employer learned of this the Plaintiff was suspended (in this case temporarily) from his employment. The reasons for judgement highlight this consequence as follows:
 The evidence at trial was clear that the plaintiff has been performing the work duties assigned to him since his return to work in 2008. However, on the first business day following completion of the trial, the plaintiff was suspended from his duties, without pay, apparently because the City of New Westminster had concerns about the plaintiff’s fitness for duty as a firefighter on the basis of its understanding of the evidence the plaintiff led at trial. By letter dated June 24, 2013, Chief Armstrong informed the plaintiff as follows:
At the trial and in speaking to legal counsel for yourself and ICBC I learned several things that caused me concern. First, apparently considerable medical evidence has been tendered at the trial as evidence of your inability to perform the full range of duties required by your position. Second, you are apparently seeking the recovery of considerable damages as a result of the accident and prior to being subpoenaed, we were not aware that these proceedings had been instituted by you.
…This is to advise that you are being held out of service without pay until you are able to prove to us that you are in fact fit for duty. We are formally requesting you provide copies of all medical evidence tendered as exhibits at your trial so that we may assess your fitness for duty as expeditiously as possible.