Fewer medical negligence claims, higher awards

Posted March 10, 2014

A recent Ontario Superior Court decision ordering a doctor to pay a stroke victim $15 million in damages highlights a trend in medical negligence cases where the number of claims is shrinking, but financial compensation to plaintiffs continues to grow, says Toronto personal injury lawyer Aleks Mladenovic.

Around Christmas 2008, Danielle Boyd was hospitalized for severe headaches, which soon turned to numbness, garbled speech and dizziness, the National Post reports. Two days later, the 24-year-old suffered a massive stroke that destroyed the critical tissue of her upper spinal cord and lower brain stem, leaving Boyd paralyzed from the neck down, the article says.

In his decision, Justice John Sproat ruled Dr. Richard Edington, the doctor who first looked after Boyd in Hanover, misdiagnosed her symptoms, delayed treatment, and took steps that hastened the brain attack, the Post reports.

“I conclude that but for the negligence of Dr. Edington, Ms. Boyd would not have suffered the stroke which debilitated her,” Sproat ruled.

Mladenovic, partner with Thomson Rogers, says it’s clear in reading the decision that the case was tough, with strong opinions by experts on both sides.

“Justice Sproat clearly felt that the defence experts crossed into the domain of advocacy. This was fatal to the defence case. In this modern age where the new rules for expert witnesses demand fealty to the court as opposed to either party, it is crucial that medical experts give their opinions in a manner that is above reproach. This means answering simply and directly to questions posed during cross-examination and by the trial judge,” he says.

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