The Minor Injury Regulation was first introduced in 2004 by the Alberta Government to limit compensation for less severe injuries arising out of motor vehicle accidents. The regulation places a “cap” on how much an injured person with minor injuries can potentially recover in general damages.
The Minor Injury Regulation does not place a cap on compensation for income loss, medical expenses, loss of housekeeping capacity, cost of care, or future treatment costs.
The 2018 cap is $5,080. This means that if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident in 2018 and you have suffered only minor injuries that fall under the cap, the maximum amount of pain and suffering damages that you are eligible to receive is $5,080.
On May 17, 2018, the Government of Alberta announced changes to the Minor Injury Regulation to provide more clarity on which injuries and symptoms are covered by the “cap”. These changes apply to all motor vehicle accidents that occur after June 1, 2018.
HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER AN INJURY CLAIM WILL BE “CAPPED”?
A lawyer or insurance adjuster must look at a number of documents to determine whether the injury falls under the “cap”. These include the individual’s medical records, the Minor Injury Regulation, the Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols Regulation, and all relevant case law.
A minor injury is defined as a sprain, a strain, or WAD injury (whiplash associated disorder) caused by a motor vehicle accident that does not result in a serious impairment.
A sprain is defined as a stretching or tearing of ligaments (the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones together in your joints). A strain is defined as a stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon (fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones).
WAD injuries are injuries to the neck caused by rapid acceleration and deceleration, typically seen in motor vehicle accidents. There are five grades of WAD. Alberta’s cap on injury damages applies to WAD I and WAD 2 only.
WAD I is defined as neck pain with normal range of motion and strength, no swelling, and no muscle spasm.
WAD II is defined as neck pain with limited range of motion, spasm or swelling, and tenderness in the neck and shoulders. Injuries of this nature are possibly related to sprained ligaments or muscle tears causing internal bleeding and swelling.
A “serious impairment” is defined as an impairment of a physical or cognitive function that:
- Results in a substantial inability to perform the essential tasks of employment, schooling, or normal activities of daily living;
- Has been ongoing since the accident; and
- That is not expected to improve substantially.
RECENT CHANGES TO THE MINOR INJURY REGULATION
Alberta has recently enacted changes to the Minor Injury Regulation for all motor vehicle accidents in Alberta that occur after June 1, 2018.
The two main changes included in this amendment are that temporomandibular jaw (“TMJ”) injuries are now included in the Minor Injury Regulation, with the exception of those that involve injury to bone or teeth, or damage or displacement of the articular disc, and psychological injuries associated with whiplash disorders are also included in the amended regulation
TMJ Injuries in Alberta
Under the new amendment, TMJ injuries that do not involve damage to teeth or bones in the jaw, or damage to the articular disc will be capped.
Damage or displacement of the articular disc is usually found when an individual’s jaw makes a clicking sound, which is likely caused when the articular disc is sliding back into place after being displaced.
Mild jaw pain that resolves quickly and with minimal treatment will now be considered an injury that is capped by the Minor Injury Regulation.
Psychological Injuries in Alberta
The least severe psychological injuries will now be capped by the Minor Injury Regulation. Psychological injuries such as depression or anxiety arising from a whiplash injury, which resolves once the whiplash injury is healed, is an example of a capped injury.
Those psychological injuries that persist for an extended period of time or that do not resolve when physical injuries heal will likely not be capped.
These changes to the Minor Injury Regulation only apply to motor vehicle accidents that occur after June 1, 2018. The preceding rules still apply to those accidents that arose before June 1, 2018.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call Cuming & Gillespie LLP today for a free initial consultation and speak to one of our experienced personal injury lawyers to get the help and advice you need. Please contact our office online or by calling 403-571-0555 to make an appointment for a free case evaluation. We look forward to helping you obtain the compensation that you deserve.