In a stunning blow to victims of personal injury the court has upheld a decision to pay only $20.00 to compensate a winning claimant for the non-expert testimony of a family physician. Unfortunately this will mean treating healthcare providers will now be subpoenaed to testify without payment for their preparation and attendance. (Luis v. Marchiori,2018 BCCA 317)
The claimant was injured in two motor vehicle accidents and was awarded $1.187 million. Her treating family physician was one of the witnesses who testified at trial. He gave evidence as a fact witness and was not qualified at trial to provide a medical opinion. He invoiced the claimant $2,651 for attending the trial in keeping with the British Columbia Medical Association Guidelines. However the court ordered the claimant entitled to recover only the $20 fee provided for in Schedule 3 of Appendix C to the Supreme Court Civil Rules. The additional $2,631 would therefore have to be paid by the claimant from her damage award.
The forced testimony of professionals without proper compensation is what the Court of Appeal has called “an inherent burden of citizenship”. From a claimant’s point of view it may well be another inherent barrier to justice.