Threshold Motion Successful

Surveillance evidence can be useful in showing that the plaintiff does not meet the Insurance Act threshold.

In Dahrouj v. Aduvala, 2012 ONSC 4090 (S.C.J.), the plaintiff was injured in a minor rear end collision.  She was a homemaker and alleged she developed chronic pain which impaired her functioning in the home and her social interaction in the community.

The evidence at trial was that the plaintiff visited her family doctor on multiple occasions prior to the accident complaining of head, neck and back pain.  She made similar complaints post-accident.  The defendant obtained surveillance showing the plaintiff engaged in a variety of activities, including scraping snow and ice off her car, pumping gas, reaching for groceries on an upper shelf and carrying groceries.  Justice Hackland described the video as “particularly devastating” to the plaintiff’s credibility, as it showed the plaintiff stretching and lifting, the activities she alleged restricted her functioning as a homemaker.

The plaintiff’s expert diagnosed her with “central sensitization”, based on a 45 minute interview and relying only on the plaintiff’s self reports.  Justice Hackland preferred the defence expert, who conducted a more thorough assessment and whose opinion was corroborated by the surveillance evidence.

Justice Hackland held the plaintiff had not proved she sustained a serious, permanent impairment of an important physical function.  As a result, she was not entitled to general damages and her recovery was limited to $32,000, the amount the jury awarded for past housekeeping. 

Surveillance of the plaintiff can be extremely important in defending claims, especially those alleging chronic pain.  When surveillance can be combined with expert opinion, it can be effective in showing that the plaintiff’s claim does not meet the threshold.

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