What Are Special Damages?
“Special damages” are the actual expenses incurred as a result of the injury or loss up to the date of trial. A plaintiff is entitled to recover all the pre-trial expenses he or she incurred as a result of their injuries, so long as they were caused by the tort and the decision to incur them was reasonable.
Money spent on medication (including over-the-counter drugs) and medical treatments are special damages. Even if it is later established that a treatment was of no benefit, if you acted reasonably at the time in seeking the treatment, the expense will be recoverable. Usually a treatment is considered reasonable if a doctor recommended it. This can even apply to unconventional treatment, such as acupuncture or herbal medicine, as well as experimental treatments.
MSP vs Privately Funded
The courts may refuse to reimburse treatments that could have been covered by MSP but were obtained privately (e.g. MRIs). The deciding factor appears to be whether the delay in waiting for the MSP funded treatment would have hindered recovery or caused further harm. So before paying for private treatment, you should get a doctor’s note setting out the waiting time under MSP and his or her opinion that this wait could cause you harm or delay your recovery.
Orthotics and Workplace Adjusments
The courts generally reimburse for orthotics, workspace enhancements and improvements to your home. Again, these have to be reasonable both in the sense that they are reasonable responses to your symptoms and that they are not unreasonably expensive.
In some cases, housekeeping expenses will be treated as special damages. This does not really affect the practical result, all expenses that are due to the injuries suffered in the accident can be claimed.
If there are trips necessitated by the accident and its consequences (e.g. attending clinics for treatment), you can claim mileage for those trips. In a 2015 ruling in the Supreme Court of British Columbia a rate of $0.50/km was awarded to the plaintiff towards mileage costs for treatment. However, if part or all of the distance travelled was unrelated to the MVA, the mileage claim may be reduced accordingly. Also, if you choose to attend treatment at a clinic that is unreasonably far from home, your mileage claim may be reduced or denied.
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