Interim Payments Denied In The Face Of Conflicting Evidence

Plaintiffs in personal injury claims can apply for interim payments while working through the courts. These payments are intended to be a portion of the total compensation a party is likely to receive stemming from a claim. These payments can be useful to people who need quick access to rehabilitation, or have other financial needs, such as supporting a family. However, as recently seen in a decision from the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, interim payments can be difficult to obtain when the courts are presented with conflicting evidence.

The accident and the claim

The plaintiff in the case was the passenger in a car that was involved in an accident with a car driven by the defendant. The defendant admitted liability for the accident, but the amount claimed by the plaintiff was in dispute, and is to be determined at a trial scheduled for November 2018. At trial, the plaintiff will be seeking damages in excess of “the cap”, past loss of income, past loss of earning capacity, and loss for housekeeping and valuable services. She claims to have suffered neck and lower back injuries in the accident, and the chronic pain associated with those injuries has limited her ability to sit, stand, and walk, impacting her daily living and ability to work.

The plaintiff filed a motion for interim payment of damages in the amount of $70,000 or such amount as deemed reasonable by the court. To support her application, she filed documents including two medical reports. The defendant, meanwhile, filed its own evidence, including a medical report, video surveillance, and discovery transcripts. They argue their evidence presents “profound issues of causation, mitigation and credibility that should be left to the trial judge.”

The awarding of interim payments

The court explained that interim payments are summary in nature, and do not include a detailed investigation into the merits of the case. Instead, “The court should only use its discretion to order a contribution to damages in cases where evidence material to the issues is uncontradicted.  Where there is material evidence before the motions judge that appears contradictory including evidence that raises live issues of causation and credibility, the motions court should decline to exercise its jurisdiction.” This principal was established in a 2005 decision from the province’s Supreme Court.

The plaintiff submitted that her likely award of damages at trial would be in the range of $147,000 to $180,000. Her claim was supported by medical reports outlining the extent of her injuries and the impact they will have on her life and ability to work. However the defendant’s medical evidence supports a finding that the plaintiff suffered from a soft tissue condition pre-dating the accident. This condition, according to their medical report, is responsible for causing the plaintiff pain. Additionally, the defendant presented video surveillance which they claim brings the plaintiff’s credibility into question.

The court, having looked at the evidence provided by both parties, found itself unable to make a reasonable determination of damages the plaintiff will be likely to recover. It would be most appropriate for the issues of credibility and causation to be dealt with at trial. As a result, the plaintiff’s motion for interim damages was denied.

The lawyers at Derfel Injury Law fight for the maximum compensation available for our clients. Our decade-plus of experience in representing victims of automobile accidents has equipped us to help you navigate what can be a difficult and confusing time following an automobile accident. If you were involved in a car accident and were not at fault, we can help you achieve the best possible resolution to your injury claim. Please call us at 416-847-3580 or reach us online to discuss your claim today.