As of June 1, 2016, people injured in motor vehicle accidents in Ontario will face new challenges. These challenges come as a result of the latest round of amendments to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS). Accident Benefits are benefits available to anyone in Ontario injured in a motor vehicle accident, irrespective of fault.
While at first glance these changes seem appealing because they result in a small reduction in premiums, they have the effect of reducing funding available to accident victims. The changes will likely make it more difficult for accident victims to heal from their injuries and to return to their pre-accident condition.
The changes will apply on the first renewal of a motor vehicle policy post June 1, 2016, or the renewal of an existing motor vehicle policy, whichever is later.
Included in the changes are reductions in monetary limits for medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care benefits and a more restricted definition of “catastrophic impairment”.
Some of the changes can be summarized as follows:
The coming changes reduce benefits substantially. Currently, medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care benefits are calculated separately. Starting June 1st, they will be combined, reducing the overall amount available.
Non-catastrophic benefits will be reduced to a total combined amount of $65,000 from $86,000 for medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care (Currently, $50,000 is allocated to medical and rehabilitation benefits, and a further $36,000 is allocated to attendant care benefits).
While the maximum duration of benefits for injured adults is presently 10 years, following June 1st, this timeframe will be reduced to 5 years. For persons under 18 years of age on the date of the accident, the benefit period will be 10 years from his or her 18th birthday.
Catastrophically injured persons will have access to a combined amount of $1,000,000 for medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care. This amount has been cut in half and is down from $2,000,000.
The changes to benefits can be summarized in the following table:
|Medical and Rehabilitation for Non-Catastrophic Injuries
|Benefits have been combined and reduced to a total of $65,000
|Increase the benefit to $130,000 total
|Attendant Care for Non-Catastrophic Injuries
|Medical and Rehabilitation for Catastrophic Injuries
|Benefits have been combined and reduced to a total of $1,000,000
|Increase the benefit to a total of $2,000,000
|Attendant Care for Catastrophic Injuries
There will likely be an overall reduction in recoverable amounts under the new regime, particularly for the most seriously injured, catastrophic claimants.
Changes to the “Catastrophic Impairment” Definition
The definition for catastrophic impairment will change dramatically.
Starting June 1st, meeting the definition of catastrophically impaired will require the use of a number of new medical tools. Further, the use of more familiar medical tools, such as the Glasgow Coma Scale, will be removed.
The new definition also updates criteria in several areas, including for claimants dealing with vision loss, amputation, and mental and behavioural impairments.
By adding these new tests and altering the approach to determining whether an injured person is catastrophically impaired, the determination may be delayed and may have negative impacts on the injured person’s health and recovery.
The changes discussed above will affect and limit the funding that accident victims need on their path to recovery. The erosion of these accident benefits make it even more important that accident victims consult with a personal injury lawyer who can properly advocate for them against the negligent party that caused or contributed-to the accident.
Motor vehicle accidents can cause permanent, life changing injuries to individuals that affect not only their lives, but the lives of their family, friends and co-workers. You should be aware of how this decrease in your accident benefits may affect you, or someone you love. I recommend increasing your accident benefits with optional benefits and you should speak to your licensed insurance broker or motor vehicle insurer to make this addition.