05 Jan Medical-Legal Report in an Assault Case

In the case of Jalava v. Webster, 2017 BCCA 378, the Plaintiff alleged he was assaulted by the Defendant, who was the night manager at a restaurant. Apparently the Defendant was under the mistaken impression that the Plaintiff had left the restaurant without paying his bill. The Defendant tackled the Plaintiff on the sidewalk, badly injuring him as a result.

The Plaintiff commenced his lawsuit against the Defendant but being unrepresented, he faced challenges and delays in navigating the court system.  When the matter was finally heard by a Chambers Judge, the Plaintiff was advised that a damage award could not be granted in the absence of a medical-legal report.

The Court of Appeal held that the Chambers Judge erred in telling the Plaintiff this.  The Court of Appeal confirmed that there is no legal rule that a Plaintiff must adduce a medical-legal report into evidence in order to have damages for personal injury assessed. The Court went on to say that there is no doubt that such reports are very helpful and that without one, it is difficult for a judge to assess damages.

In this particular case, the Plaintiff told the Court that he had suffered a broken clavicle and a “banged up knee” as a result of the assault, but had no specific details of the injuries or the financial consequences he had suffered.  The Appeal was heard several years after the assault and it was doubtful that any further information was likely to be brought forward.

The appeal was allowed and the Chambers Judge’s order set aside. Since this matter had a long history and it was unlikely the Plaintiff could adduce evidence of his injuries, the Court of Appeal awarded him the nominal amount of $100.