The Province of Ontario introduced changes to the definition of catastrophic injury for insurance coverage purposes which will limit the benefits of those who seek benefits. In fact under these changes those benefits will be reduced in many cases. Singer Kwinter is concerned about how these changes will affect our clients who have suffered a traumatic injury through no fault of their own.
TORONTO (June 12, 2012) – The Ontario government is about to implement another round of cuts to auto insurance benefits, this time slashing coverage for devastating injuries. “If the government goes ahead with this, it will hurt a lot of very vulnerable people,” says Nick Gurevich, President of the Alliance of Community Medical and Rehabilitation Providers.
Severely Injured May No Longer Be Protected
Accident victims with severe brain injuries or paralysis, for example, may find they no longer qualify for catastrophic coverage. Those unable to work again, who face years of therapy and life in a wheelchair, may be denied the benefits they need.
Currently, accident victims who are deemed to have suffered a catastrophic (CAT) injury are eligible for basic medical and rehabilitation benefits of up to $1 million. But if the province accepts the recommendations of an expert panel, the CAT threshold will be raised significantly.
This will result in far fewer accident victims qualifying for CAT benefits. Those denied under the proposed new rules will instead be eligible for a maximum of only $50,000 in basic benefits. “We estimate that the number of cases deemed catastrophic will be reduced by half if these changes are implemented,” says Andrew Murray, President of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA).
Victims Speak Out
Jaisa Sulit considers herself lucky that she was in a motorcycle accident before any changes to CAT. She was left with a spinal cord injury which qualified for the higher benefits. This funding made two years of intensive therapy possible, and she is now able to walk again.
“But under the proposed new CAT definition, I would not qualify. I would receive only $50,000 in funding, and that would be exhausted in the first several months. I wouldn’t be on the road to having my life back,” Sulit notes.
Dino Le Donne is also thankful that he didn’t have to rely on just $50,000 to see him through. Surviving a horrific crash that left him with broken bones, a collapsed lung and a serious brain injury, he has undergone years of treatment. Today, he is back to work and a productive member of society. “No way I could have made this recovery if I was excluded from CAT benefits, which would be the case under these new proposals,” he explains. “How can there be any justification for taking away the benefits that help people in desperate need rebuild their lives?”
Brian Patterson, General Manager of the Ontario Safety League (OSL), notes that under the proposed new rules “accident victims who no longer qualify for CAT benefits could find themselves paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical, rehabilitation and support costs out of their own pockets.”
Ads warning of the impact of the proposed cuts began appearing in newspapers today. Ontarians can go to www.ontariorehaballiance.com/mpp/ to send an email to their MPP expressing their concern.
The “Expert Panel”
The proposed changes are contained in a report by the Catastrophic Impairment Expert Panel, which was appointed by FSCO. It should be noted that half of the panel members have been consultants for the insurance industry association.
Here are links to the changes and to the statement from the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association which opposes these changes.
Our firm will continue to fight for justice and to ensure all clients who have been traumatically injured through no fault of their own will get the benefits they need and deserve at a most difficult time of their lives and their families.
For further information please contact:
Jason D. Singer
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