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Westerhof v. Gee – Re-Defining the Role of Treating Doctors in Personal Injury Actions

Veronica S. Marson
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A recent Divisional Court decision has re-examined the type of evidence that treating physicians and other health professionals are able to provide in personal injury actions.

In Westerhof v. Gee (Estate), 2013 ONCSC 2093, the court stated that a treating physician may give evidence in court regarding their observations of an injured patient and a description of the treatment they are provided.

However, a treating physician may be unable to provide an opinion with respect to a diagnosis or prognosis unless they are certified as an expert by the court. As a result, they must comply with Rule 53.03 of the Rules of Civil Procedure which includes the filing of an expert report and an Acknowledgement of Expert’s Duty (Form 53).

gavel & stethescope

Westerhof is a departure from earlier lower court decisions which provided more flexibility for treating physicians to communicate their knowledge of a patient’s condition at trial. The case will severely impact the type and form of evidence introduced by treating practitioners.

An application for leave to appeal this decision has been already filed at the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

The content of this article or blog posting is of a general nature and does not constitute legal advice. It is not intended to be a full or complete analysis of the topic. Before applying the concepts or any content of this article or blog it is imperative that you consult your legal advisor.

Neither the author of this article or Singer Kwinter can accept any responsibility for financial loss nor gain of any nature should the reader not take advice from their legal advisor.

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