Minor Injury Guidelines – What are the Courts doing? – Ottawa car accident lawyers and the impact of recent decisions
Persons injured in motor vehicle can be entitled to accident benefits such as medical and rehabilitation benefits, typically from their own motor vehicle insurer.
Certain injuries are classified as minor injuries under the Minor Injury Guideline or MIG. Injuries such as strains, sprains and whiplash are classified as minor injuries. In the event the injuries sustained by a person injured in a motor vehicle accident are considered minor injuries, the maximum benefits payable for medical and rehabilitation is $3,500. As you can imagine, being limited to $3,500 under the MIG can significantly impact the quality and amount of medical and rehabilitation care services a person receives. In a recent case, Scarlett v. Belair Insurance Co., the claimant was injured in a motor vehicle accident and sought to receive medical and rehabilitation benefits from Belair. The claimant suffered strains, sprains and whiplash in addition to chronic pain disorder and depression. The claimant also suffered from temporomandibular joint disorder or TJD. Belair took the position that the injuries put the claimant within the Minor Injury Guidelines and therefore was only entitled to a maximum of $3,500 for medical and rehabilitation benefits.
The matter proceeded to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario and was arbitrated. The Arbitrator found that the claimant’s psychological conditions meant that the claimant did not suffer minor injuries but that the claimant could receive up to $50,000 in medical and rehabilitation benefits as a non-catastrophic injured party. The decision was appealed by Belair to the Directors Delegate who rescinded the Arbitrator’s decision and remitted the matter back for a full hearing.
Some of the important elements of the decision in this case are that the Minor Injury Guideline definition under the statutory accident benefits schedule is binding and cannot be deviated from. Also, the claimant bears the burden of establishing entitlement to benefits. Also, if an injured person is relying on a pre-existing condition as a means to exceed the limit under the Minor Injury Guidelines, there must be compelling evidence that these conditions will prevent the injured person from achieving maximum recovery.
If you have suffered injuries as a result of the motor vehicle accident and find yourself limited to the Minor Injury Guideline benefits and believe you have been treated unfairly, contact one of our Ottawa motor vehicle accident injury lawyers for a free consultation. Our lawyers work on a no fee until you win basis. Call us at 613-315-4878 or 613-563-1131.