When a Minor Injury is Not So Minor

Last year, on September 1, 2010, changes were imposed on Ontario’s no fault benefits regime that drastically reduced the benefits available to individuals involved in car collisions. The changes were largely a result of vigorous lobbying on behalf of the insurance companies. Perhaps the most devastating change had been the reduction of medical and rehabilitation benefits. Now, if an individual has sustained what the new legislation refers to as a “minor injury”, no more than $3,500.00 in medical and rehabilitation benefits is available.

Unfortunately, the definition of “minor injury” includes injuries that would not be considered “minor” by the average lay person and even includes injuries that are easily considered to be life altering. According to the definition, a minor injury is “one or more of a sprain, strain, whiplash associated disorder, contusion, abrasion, laceration or subluxation and includes any clinically associated sequelae to such an injury”. Strain is further defined as including partial tears of muscles. Subluxations are defined as including partial dislocation of joints. The result is that many disc herniations in the spine and partial tears in knee and shoulder muscles are now considered injuries which are “minor” and for which limited funding is available. These injuries just described can be quite debilitating and can even require surgery. Clearly, very little efforts have been made by the legislature to ensure that the “minor injury” cap on benefits is applied only to the injuries that are truly minor.

At Bonn Law, we have assisted people under this new regime to access the benefits that they require to improve from their injuries and we have helped people to move their claims out of the minor injury cap. We have obtained and presented compelling information about additional impairments above and beyond the so-called “minor injuries” including psychological problems and concussion related difficulties. We also assist individuals with proving that their pre-accident health problems are significant such that the $3,500 would be insufficient to lead them towards maximal medical recovery. The bottom line is that an individual who is injured in a motor vehicle accident does not merely have to accept the insurer’s word on whether the minor injury cap will apply to their claim.