Depression & Other Psychological Impairments–Not “Minor” Injuries
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been running a series on car accident injuries that aren’t considered minor but also aren’t considered catastrophic, like concussions and chronic pain. Today we’re talking about psychological impairments that may arise from motor vehicle collisions. These can include depression, anxiety, PTSD and many other psychological diagnoses.
The Minor Injury Guideline (MIG) lists various bodily injuries but not psychological impairments. Nevertheless, if you have a mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression or PTSD following a car accident, the insurer will often argue that it’s not severe enough to warrant moving you out of the MIG.
Let’s take a look at some cases where psychological impairments were found to be not minor.
In a case called 17-005791 v Aviva Insurance Canada, 2018 CanLII 112107, the claimant had been in a car accident and was suffering significant, ongoing psychological symptoms:
“[T]he applicant describes herself as “sad and depressed, socially withdrawn and isolated from friends, irritable and argumentative, emotionally sensitive and cries when alone. She has a reduced appetite, disturbed sleep and difficulty falling asleep, accident-related thoughts and images, intrusive thoughts of being involved in accidents with her family, ruminations of the accident, diminished cognitive acuity, nervous at intersections and anxiety and fear as a passenger.”
The adjudicator accepted the clinical psychologist’s diagnosis of “Adjustment Disorder (309.0) with Depressed Mood and Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Vehicular Anxiety/Avoidance” and agreed with the psychologist’s assessment that those symptoms required treatment and that they fell outside the MIG.
In a case called 16-003638 v Aviva Insurance Canada, 2018 CanLII 95565 (ON LAT), the claimant had been injured in a motor vehicle accident and sought to have his injuries removed from the MIG in order to access additional benefits. The adjudicator accepted the evidence of the claimant’s psychiatrist:
“Dr. Kakar diagnosed the applicant with severe major depression, persistent depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, pain associated with psychological factors and general medical condition and posttraumatic stress disorder. … Based on the above, I find that the applicant has established on a balance of probabilities that he suffers from a psychological impairment that takes him outside the confines of the MIG. ”
The adjudicator found that in addition to psychological treatments, expenses for chiropractic treatments, assistive devices, physical therapy, and a chronic pain assessment were reasonable and necessary.
In a case called 16-000143 v Aviva Canada Inc., 2016 CanLII 96167 (ON LAT), the claimant had been in a motor vehicle collision that caused many physical and psychological injuries. He had been diagnosed with “adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood, chronic and specific phobias, situational type (Heavy Equipment, Vehicle Driver and Vehicle Passenger)”.
The adjudicator found that while many of the physical injuries were truly minor, that there was “overwhelming evidence that supports the position that the applicant suffers from a psychological impairment as a result of the accident.” The adjudicator found that the injuries fell outside the MIG and that expenses for psychological, neurological, and physiatrist assessments/treatments were reasonable and necessary.
Following a car accident, it is absolutely essential to have your injuries appropriately categorized by the insurer. When your injuries receive appropriate care and attention, you’ll be much more likely to reach an optimal recovery.
If your psychological condition is linked to a physical injury–even a minor one– that can be enough to lift you out of the MIG and unlock access to significantly more benefits that will help you heal and recover.