Cost of future care awards – Are the costs medically justified and reasonable?

This very recent decision supports the benefit and need for massage therapy treatment, among other treatment modalities.

In Anderson v. Gagnon, 2018, BCSC 98 (CanLii) the Plaintiff suffered injuries to her neck and upper back. She was suffering with spasms and decreased movement in her shoulder with daily activity.  It was noted that the Plaintiff was benefitting from massage therapy as it improved her function.  The medical evidence also supported that intermittent massage therapy was reasonable.  The Court awarded cost of future care specifically for massage therapy in the sum of $20,000.  There were other treatment modalities that were also deemed helpful, and further amounts were awarded under the category of cost of future care.

The Court stated:

“Assessment of future care costs must take into account what is” reasonably necessary on the medical evidence” to preserve and promote the plaintiff’s physical health: see Milina v Bartsch (1985), 1985 CanLII 179 (BC SC), 49 B.C.L.R (2nd) 33 (S.C.) and Gignac v. Rozylo, 2012 BCCA 351 (CanLII).

In Penner v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2011 BCCA 135 (CanLII), the court reminds trial judges that common sense should inform claims under this head of damage “however much they may be recommended by experts in the field.

Therefore, in applying these principles, the Court concludes in this case as follows:

I have concluded on the evidence that many of the expenses and costs described by Ms. Gibson are medically justified and reasonable because there is sufficient evidence that the claims are directly related to the injuries arising out of the accident and will ameliorate the impact on the plaintiff: see Milina at para 201 and 211; Warick v. Diwell, 2017 BCSC 68 (CanLII) at para 202 and 204. In Warick, Schultes J. summarized the process of assessing future costs:

Damages for the cost of future care are assessed, not mathematically calculated:  Uhrovic v. Masjhuri, 2008 BCCA 462 (CanLII) at paras. 28-31. There is an inherent degree of uncertainty and discretion in making such awards. Because awards are made “once and for all” at the time of trial, judges must “peer into the future” and fix the damages “as best they can”. This includes allowing contingencies for the possibility that the future may differ from what the evidence at trial indicates:  Krangle (Guardian ad litem of) v. Brisco, 2002 SCC 9 (CanLII), at para. 21.

Although the amount initially submitted for cost of future care on behalf of the Plaintiff of $1360 per year for massage therapy for the Plaintiff’s lifetime was deemed excessive, the court awarded $20,000 for massage therapy under this category.

“I accept that the plaintiff alternates between massage therapy and physiotherapy treatments to address her pain complaints. For the reasons set out in answer to the plaintiff’s claim for physiotherapy services, I award her $20,000 for massage therapy services.”

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