In the early 1990s, as part of an effort to implement no-fault insurance in Ontario, the provincial government announced a $10,000 statutory deductible on compensation for general damages incurred in motor vehicle accidents. The goal was to discourage lawsuits for minor injuries with the expectation that newly available accident benefits would make up for lost awards.
When it was introduced, many personal injury lawyers saw the deductible as an acceptable price to pay for no-fault insurance – but times have changed. A recent Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) blog post called the statutory deductible “the law that may be most frequently used to punish innocent accident victims in Ontario to the benefit of bad drivers and their insurers.”
What are General Damages?
When a person is injured in a motor vehicle accident, they have the right to seek compensation for their pain and suffering. This type of compensation is referred to as general damages; in some cases, it may be the only form of compensation that the plaintiff seeks.
What is a Deductible?
From an insurance perspective, a deductible is an amount of money that policy holders must pay before the insurance provider contributes. For example: if your car incurred $1,000 worth of damage in a fender-bender and your insurance policy included a $500 deductible, the insurer would contribute just $500 toward repairs.
The statutory deductible works the same way. If you incur general damages valued at $100,000 in a motor vehicle accident, you will only receive $62,000 in compensation. Or, if your damages are calculated at less than $37,500, you risk walking away with nothing.
Please note: the statutory deductible only applies for awards of less than $126,610.07.
The Main Issue
At the heart of personal injury lawyers’ opposition to the statutory deductible is its growing imbalance with general damages awards, which have not risen in unison with the deductible, and available accident benefits, which have been significantly reduced in recent years.
“The deductible has grown considerably, while benefits are shrinking considerably, which I find very concerning,” one Ontario personal injury lawyer told Law Times in November. “While I appreciate quick access to medical benefits means better outcomes, when that amount is only $3,500 for most people, it’s not possible to get adequate treatment and set yourself on the path to recovery.”
Additionally, the Province of Ontario’s threshold test for personal injury lawsuits largely accomplishes what the statutory deductible was intended for: to limit civil action over minor injuries.
An Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you’ve been injured in an automotive accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of Toronto personal injury lawyers has been assisting seriously injured accident victims for decades, and can provide guidance and advice as your travel the road to recovery.
Thirty-three-year-old Scott McPherson may have been the first snowmobiler to lose his life in Ontario this winter, but he is unlikely to be the last. The man’s body was recovered from an Eastern Ontario lake in late November, prompting the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to release a public warning, the contents of which every Ontario snowmobile accident lawyer will find painfully familiar.
“No ice is ‘safe ice,’” the statement reads. “Underlying water currents or air pockets can create thin ice, even in the coldest temperatures. Snowmobilers can’t see this until it’s too late.”
The police service is hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2016-17 winter season, during which snowmobile-related deaths reached a ten-year high. Approximately a third of the fatalities involved breaking through shallow ice and many were linked to speeding, impairment, and other risky, avoidable behaviours.
Like every Ontario snowmobile accident lawyer, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) understands that some of its members take unnecessary risks on the trails. Together with the OPP, the province’s primary organizing body for snowmobilers is aiming to effect change.
“Working in partnership with the OPP on snowmobile safety these past several years continues to be an effective way to promote safe snowmobiling, with the aim of reducing the number of snowmobile fatalities,” OFSC Manager of Participation and Partnership Develop said last year in a release. “While we are pleased to see many snowmobilers using OFSC trails safety and responsibly, there are still a number of them taking unnecessary chances and making bad riding choices.”
During Ontario Snowmobile Safety Week 2017, the organization published a comprehensive list of safety tips ‘for arriving home safely after each ride.’ The list advises riders to stay on open OFSC trails; only ride in good visibility conditions; maintain space between riders; use hand signals; remain on the right-hand side of the trail; never cross ice alone; and always be vigilant and prepared for accidents by carrying a survival kit and reliable communications device.
Snowmobiling is an intimate, engrossing way to experience Ontario’s unique winter landscape; by adhering to common sense safety protocols, it can also be a safe one.
If you or a member of your family has suffered a serious injury in a snowmobiling accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to speak with an experienced Ontario snowmobile accident lawyer. For more than 40 years, our team of knowledgeable and understanding representatives has fought for the rights of some of the province’s most seriously injured accident victims. Call today to learn how we can help.
Image credit: Yellowstone National Park/Flickr
Organizations we support