Are Ontario car accident victims better off now than they were five years ago?

Are car accident victims better off now than they were five years ago?

According to Alan Shanoff in the Toronto Sun, the answer is a resounding “NO”.

In his recent opinion piece called Hard road for car crash victims: Why is the Ontario government taking away money they deserve and transferring it to the insurance industry?, Shanoff outlines the ways that the province has been steadily chipping away at benefits for people injured in auto accidents.

In August, “the Ontario government issued a regulation increasing deductibles that apply when people injured in auto accidents sue the person or persons who caused the accident.”

There is now a $36,540 deductible that is taken off the top of any award of damages under $121,799. This is up from $30,000 and $100,000 before the change in August, and subject to an increase for inflation every year starting in 2016.

Unfortunately, these increased thresholds mean that a larger portion of damages awards apply to a larger number of cases, and Sanhoff points out that jurors in these cases aren’t told about the deductible, “for fear they might bump up their awards.”

Sanhoff argues,

“There’s no principled reason to apply a deductible.

There’s no need for any deductible to be used to prevent minor or nuisance claims from being launched, because only victims who can establish they have suffered a permanent serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function can succeed in their claim.”

He also notes that in 2010, Ontario reduced the maximum payout for medical and rehabilitation benefits from $100,000 to $3,500 and also cut the the maximum payout for non-catastrophic, non-minor injuries in half, from $100,000 to $50,000.  On top of that, another regulation issued last month cut catastrophic impairment benefits in half.

To add insult to injury, only people who have been injured in auto accidents are affected by these changes. As the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association Blog points out, you could be injured in exactly the same way in a slip and fall accident, sue for damages, and not be subject to any reduction in compensation.

Read more about the details of these changes here: Further Erosion of Plaintiffs’ Compensation Effective August 1, 2015 (Ontario Trial Lawyers Association Blog).