Are SABS assessors "experts"?

Those of you defending accident benefits actions may wish to review this case before your next discovery.

Babakar v. Brown (2010), 100 O.R. (3d) 191 (Div. Ct.)

The defendant insurer had the plaintiff assessed pursuant to s. 42 of the SABS to determine whether he continued to be entitled to benefits. Based on these reports, the insurer terminated benefits and the plaintiff brought an action against the insurer. During examination for discovery, the claims examiner refused to answer certain questions about the s. 42 reports on the basis that they constituted cross-examination of expert witnesses, beyond the permissible limits of r. 31.06(3).

The master ordered the questions answered and an appeal to the Superior Court was dismissed on the basis that the experts retained by the insurer were not "experts" within the meaning of r. 31.06(3).

The Divisional Court allowed the appeal. The experts were chosen by the insurer to help it make a determination under the SABS and as such, they were engaged by or on behalf of a party being examined in the action in relation to a matter in issue in the action. The discoverability of their evidence is therefore governed by r. 31.06(3).

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