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Personal Injury Law: New regulation means disaster for injured drivers

On Aug. 27, the Ontario government reduced accident benefits purportedly as a way to cut automobile insurance premiums.

While the changes and reductions will surely serve to fatten up an already-fat insurance industry, they’ll also cause further financial distress and hardship for accident victims.

The legislation, set out in Ontario Regulation 251/15, will reduce total accident benefits available to the most seriously injured motorists in Ontario to $1 million from $2 million.

In addition to cutting catastrophic impairment benefits in half, the legislation overhauls the definition that determines entitlement. The overhaul includes the elimination of the popular Glasgow coma scale test as a means to obtain the crucial catastrophic impairment designation and adopts an assortment of new tests.

It’s not that the replacement tests are inappropriate; the concern is that they serve to recreate a wheel that, after 20 years of litigation, was starting to run smoothly. The new tests will lead to confusion, uncertainty, and delays, all of which will have a negative impact on the rehabilitation of seriously injured claimants.

Other legislative changes will reduce the total amount of benefits available to non-catastrophic accident victims to $65,000 from an already-reduced $86,000.

Further, the government has cut the duration of non-earner benefits. Students, the unemployed, stay-at-home parents, and the elderly will no longer qualify for non-earner benefits indefinitely. Instead, they’ll qualify for only two years of benefits.

The new legislation will affect claims arising out of accidents that occur on or after June 1, 2016.

Reduced accident benefits result in magnified tort actions and will lead to expedited litigation along with claims against insurance brokers for failing to recommend adequate insurance to motorists. Given these accident benefit reductions, the common $1-million tort liability policy is undeniably inadequate.

As a result of these changes, the mandatory automobile insurance system in Ontario no longer provides the protection it was designed to provide.

Darcy Merkur is a partner at Thomson Rogers in Toronto practising plaintiff’s personal injury litigation. He’s a certified specialist in civil litigation and creator of the Ontario personal injury damages calculator.

  • Unhappy with the reduced benefits

    Francis P
    This is really unfair for injured drivers. I found another blog tells about reduced benefits https://www.campisilaw.ca/blog/top-up-your-car-insurance/. Government has made a big difference in insurance benefits
  • lawyer, arbitrator, mediator

    Hon. Dennis Lane QC
    I am deeply disappointed at these changes which are unfair to the seriously injured and will surely lead to more tort actions; the exact reverse of what was hoped for.
  • puzzling

    Brian Francis
    The Liberal/Wynne attack on injured auto accident victims' benefits leaves one wondering why OTLA donated to her leadership campaign and then later, cheered her election victor.
  • Concerned citizen

    Harold Flaming
    How tragic. The insurance companies benefit and ordinary citizens suffer. The Premier and the MPPs supporting this legislation should put themselves in the position of those having to deal with such catastrophic injuries and no money to cover the cost for medical and rehab expenses. Shameful
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