June 3, 2015
In most car accidents resulting in injuries, victims won't actually be squaring off against the drivers that caused them harm. They'll be facing the driver's insurance company instead, attempting to recover the cost of any medical care they have to receive in addition to compensation for the pain and suffering they experience.
This is the reason drivers are required to carry insurance, in fact. The costs incurred by injured parties in many car accidents is far more than the average driver can afford to pay, and insurance gives everyone a way to pool their resources and provide necessary benefits without breaking the bank.
In Ontario, however, seeking just compensation following a catastrophic car accident just got more difficult.
Since 1996, Ontario's laws required insurance companies to pay up to $1 million for reasonable medical and rehabilitation services to accident victims, and up to another $1 million for attendant care costs, in the case of a catastrophically injured individual. A recently-enacted change cuts those figures in half, for a combined $1 million total for all benefits.
This is nothing but a win for the insurance company and a loss for injured parties. Receiving an award in excess of $1 million almost always involves a trial in front of a judge and jury, meaning one legal scholar and a handful of other reasonable adults would have to agree that the real expenses incurred warrants such a high payment.
Now, even if such expenses are warranted, a jury will be unable to award them. Insurance companies can count on paying less even in the most extreme and egregious situations, and that's bad for all potential accident victims.
In addition, Ontario has reduced the benefits available for non-catastrophically injured individuals from a total of $86,000 to a total of $65,000, with the availability period reduced from 10 years to five years.
Though a disappointing legislative change for accident victims in Ontario, compare this to Alberta’s accident benefits, which max out at $50,000 regardless of how catastrophic the injury and are only available for a maximum of two years.
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