In motor vehicle accident cases, it is essential that expert opinions from doctors are presented to the court in order to assist judges in assessing an individual’s injuries. Under the rules of court, expert doctors are to evaluate an individual’s injuries in an impartial manner and not act as an advocate for any party when providing their opinions. It is difficult to imagine how a thorough and accurate assessment of a person’s injuries could be completed when the expert has not seen them.
In the case of Tench v. Van Bugnum, 2019 BCSC 1877, the court questioned the usefulness of ICBCs expert medical opinion on the basis that their doctor never saw the injured individual. The plaintiff in that case was injured in two motor vehicle accidents and was left suffering from ,soft tissue injuries to her neck, upper and lower back, and both shoulders. The plaintiff was also diagnosed by a vascular surgeon as suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome.
Instead of having a doctor actually examine the plaintiff, ICBC simply hired a cardiothoracic surgeon to review the plaintiff’s medical records. On the basis of a records-review alone, that doctor opined that the plaintiff was not suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome.
The court took a dim view of ICBC’s approach. The judge noted that the opinion of ICBC’s surgeon was significantly undermined by the fact that they did not examine or meet the plaintiff. The court noted that ICBC’s surgeon’s “opinion ultimately is of little to no assistance to the court because it offers no explanation, prediction or recommendations with respect to any of the plaintiff’s ongoing and significant symptoms.” Unsurprisingly, the court did not agree with the opinion of ICBC’s surgeon and found that the plaintiff was suffering, indeed, suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome.
It is important in all personal injury cases that appropriate and impartial medical experts are involved in evaluating a person’s injuries. When dealing with medically complex cases it is important that you have the assistance of a lawyer to ensure that the evidence presented by ICBC is appropriately challenged if necessary.