24 Aug Division of Costs in Unsuccessful Personal Injury Lawsuits

Not all personal injury lawsuits succeed. In Briante v. Vancouver Island Health Authority, 2014 BCSC 1511, the Plaintiff, represented by experienced counsel from another firm, failed to prove that the actions of the Defendants contributed to his injuries. As a result, the Plaintiff’s claim did not succeed and he failed to recover any damages from the Defendants.
After a trial, the ordinary rule is that the unsuccessful party (the Plaintiff in Briante) must pay a portion of the successful party’s legal costs. This is referred to as costs “following the event”. However, in Briante v. Vancouver Island Health Authority, 2015 BCSC 807, the court recognized that a number of factors justified departure from the ordinary rule:


  1. a) the Plaintiff had succeeded on one legal issue, the standard of care, despite that his claim ultimately failed overall;


  1. b) the conduct of one of the Defendants lengthened and complicated the trial;


  1. c) a costs award to the defence would constitute a hardship to the Plaintiff’s retiree parents; and


  1. d) the Plaintiff acted in good faith throughout the proceedings.


As a result, the Judge ruled that the Plaintiff did not need to pay the Defendants’ legal costs relating to the issue of the standard of care. However, the Plaintiff still had to pay the Defendants’ costs with respect to the remaining issues and that was a considerable sum.


One of the best ways to avoid a costs award against you is to make sure your claim succeeds. To provide yourself with the best chance of success in your personal injury claim, contact Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota.