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02 Sep 2014

Failure to follow doctor’s orders costs Plaintiff 20% of his claim

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Hollett v Yeager, 2014 NSSC 207

Mr. Hollett was hurt in a rear-end motor vehicle accident in 2006 at the age of 34. His injuries developed into chronic pain.

Hollett briefly returned to his pre-accident job at a golf course following the accident, but was unemployed for more than seven years leading up to trial. He claimed he was permanently disabled and would never return to work.

Hollett received weekly indemnity benefits from his insurer following the accident and settled his future weekly indemnity claim for a lump sum of $85,000 in July 2012. He also received CPP disability benefits following the accident.

Hollett failed to follow treatments recommended by his doctors. He developed a sedentary lifestyle, with the only real treatment being narcotics.

At trial, the judge found that Hollett’s chronic pain was caused by the accident. However, the judge held that if Hollett had seriously engaged in the medical and therapeutic treatments recommended by his doctors, his condition would have improved.
The judge reduced Hollett’s damages by 20%.

Turning to Hollett’s past loss of income, the judge did not deduct CPP disability benefits received by him despite a 2009 Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruling that CPP was deductible. The trial judge found that this previous decision of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court was no longer good law.

In calculating Hollett’s future loss of income, the trial judge considered whether Hollett’s claim should be discounted only by the $85,000 lump sum settlement or the full amount of Section B benefits Hollett could have received but for the settlement. The court found that the deduction should be limited to $85,000 as Hollett’s decision to settle was reasonable in the circumstances.

Ultimately, Hollett was awarded a total of $268,500 in damages which was broken down as follows:

  • $38,000 in general damages,
  • $3,500 in special damages,
  • $120,000 in past loss of income,
  • $75,000 in future loss of income,
  • $4,000 in lost valuable services, and
  • $28,000 in future medical care costs.

You can read Hollett v Yeager, 2014 NSSC 207 in its entirety here