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Injured? Visit your doctor..or else

Hauer & Co. > Evidence  > Injured? Visit your doctor..or else

Injured? Visit your doctor..or else

If you don’t visit your doctor when you’re injured, it could undermine your claim.

In a recent decision, Moody v. Hejdanek 2018 BCSC 380, the plaintiff asked for damages because of injuries he suffered from a motor vehicle accident on January 3, 2013. The defendant admitted liability but disputed the amounts of damages claimed by the plaintiff.

The plaintiff was born in 1981. He had played recreational golf since he was five years old and he has played very seriously since he was 13 years old. He attended university in the United States on a golf scholarship but he did not complete his business degree. He has worked and trained at a number of prestigious golf clubs in Canada and the United States. He is currently a professional golfer with a class A CPGA certification.

There was no previous medical history of significance. The plaintiff described himself as a “germaphobe”, being averse to visits to medical facilities and reluctant to take medication. The plaintiff was 32 years old at the time of the accident on January 6, 2013.  The plaintiff’s car was written off and there was $17,354 damage to the defendant’s vehicle.

The plaintiff claimed $110,000 for his pain and suffering resulting from the accident. The Court found that the plaintiff’s failure to attend to his doctor on a regular basis reduced the weight the court placed on his evidence and raised an inference that he suffered minimal injuries. The court opined as follows:

[56]         I conclude that the absence of contemporaneous medical information about the plaintiff between 2013 and 2017 raises an issue of the weight that is to be given to the plaintiff’s expert evidence.

[57]         A further conclusion that can reasonably be drawn from the absence of medical information between 2013 and 2017 is that there were minimal injuries caused by that accident. Accepting that the plaintiff talked to his golf clients who had medical training, his own evidence is that none of them suggested making an appointment for an examination or treatment. It cannot be the case, as urged by the plaintiff, that conversations on the golf course with people with medical training is the same as seeing those people in their offices and undergoing an examination. Put another way, even on the evidence of the plaintiff, these medical professionals did not think it necessary for him to be examined in their office.

[58]         As partial explanation for this, the plaintiff says he has an aversion to doctors and he is a “germaphobe.” I accept the plaintiff’s evidence that he is uncomfortable seeing doctors but he has seen them for other reasons in the past (for example, an abscessed tooth). He also saw three specialists and underwent a functional evaluation for this litigation without any recorded problems. He apparently did not take pain medication prescribed when he attended at a walk-in clinic in January 2013 but he currently takes Advil for pain. I conclude that the plaintiff would have sought out further medical attention after March 2013 if the injuries he suffered from the 2013 accident had been serious enough, as any sensible person would do.

[59]         According to the defendant, the lack of medical attention at the time of the January 2013 accident means that the plaintiff did not take reasonable steps to mitigate his injuries. There is a logic to that submission but, as above, I conclude that the situation is one of weight to be given to the plaintiff’s expert evidence rather than of mitigation.

The Court held that it preferred the evidence of the defendant and found that $55,000 was the amount of non-pecuniary (pain and suffering) damages appropriate in this case.

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