On January 22, 2015 the Ontario Court of Appeal released its reasons in the case of Gyorffy v. Drury. Since October 2003 plaintiffs in Ontario who seek an aware of general damages for injuries arising from a motor vehicle accident must lead evidence from a qualified medical doctor with respect to their alleged permanent and serious injuries. In addition plaintiffs must “adduce evidence that corroborates the change in function that is alleged to be a permanent and serious impairment.” [O.Reg461/96 s. 4.3(5)].
At the trial of this matter three treating doctors testified as to the permanent and serious impairments they felt arose from the accident. The plaintiff also testified to his ongoing issues. No family members, co-workers or other lay witnesses testified as to the plaintiff’s condition before and after the accident. The trial judge held that, although he found the plaintiff to be credible, the plaintiff could not provide corroborating evidence, and therefore the claim was dismissed.
The majority of the Divisional Court held that the evidence that needs corroboration under the regulation is the evidence of the doctor who is providing the opinion as to there being a permanent and serious impairment. The Divisional Court noted the regulation does not specifically exclude the plaintiff from provided that evidence. As such, testimony from the plaintiff could be used to meet the requirements of the regulation.
On appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal the defendant argued that the Divisional Court’s interpretation of the regulation “renders the corroboration requirement irrelevant…”Corroborating evidence must be evidence from a source independent of the witness whose evidence requires corroboration. As the physician’s evidence is invariably based on facts the plaintiff relates to the physician, the corroboration…cannot also come from the plaintiff.”
The Court of Appeal rejected the above argument, and upheld the majority decision of the Divisional Court. However, the Court did take the time to comment that testimony from a plaintiff may not always be sufficient, but rather will be fact specific to each case.