Damages Not Reduced Based on a Lack of Doctor Visits

A doctor's coat used to emphasize that appointments does not affect personal injury claims

The British Columbia Supreme Court recently held that the number of visits to a doctor’s office does not determine the value of the Plaintiff’s personal injury claim. In TARZWELL V. EWASHINA, the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle collision in 2007 and suffered soft tissue injuries to the lower back and trapezius muscle. After she was injured, the Plaintiff decided not to burden the medical system with unnecessary visits to physicians who would give her little or no further advice other than what she had already received and followed.

The court accepted that the Plaintiff’s symptoms and pain were permanent due to the nature and severity of her injuries. The court explained that the number of visits to a doctor did not determine the extent of the Plaintiff’s personal injury claim. Individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents would be unjustly marginalized if the court were to measure a plaintiff’s claim by the number of medical consultations attended or the number of doctors visited. Likewise, a case that closes quickly does not imply nominal damages. Accordingly, the court awarded Ms. Tarzwell $60,000 for non-pecuniary damages.

In TARZWELL, the court also commended the lawyers who presented the case with uncompromising efficiency. All the evidence was heard in one day, along with an additional half day for argument. Meaningful claims were presented, and the lawyers meticulously focused on matters that were actually in dispute. The court concluded that the case was a successful example of proportionality and an illustration of how litigation can be conducted. The lawyers did not waste the court’s time by providing marginal evidence that would have offered no assistance to the judge. Medical evidence consisted of two reports. The quality and substance of the evidence trumped the style in which the case was presented. Commenting on the conduct of litigation, the court noted that “style should never trump substance.”

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