Let’s suppose a scenario. You have been injured in an accident and suffered injuries due to the negligence of the other driver. Your whiplash is still causing you intense headaches. Not only is this keeping you from returning to work but you are depressed and your bills are piling up. Yet, under the caps for “minor injuries”, you are only entitled to $5,080 in compensation for your pain and suffering.
The History and Purpose of Caps
First, let’s look at the history of caps being imposed on minor injuries in Alberta. Back in 2004, caps were imposed to balance the rights of injured parties with the increases in the cost of insurance. At that time, caps were set in the amount of $4,000 to increase annually to adjust for inflation. This was due to the fact that insurance companies were bearing the brunt of higher costs which directly led to consumers being charged higher premiums. In order to offset this, the caps were imposed to control payouts on minor injuries and to discourage litigation and legal costs associated with it.
Broad and Confusing Definitions
In the years since these caps were imposed, we see that one of the consequences of is confusion in determining what injuries are minor. The regulation under The Insurance Act specifies that a minor injury is a sprain, strain, or whiplash associated disorder. This definition is not only extremely broad but confusing.
The terms sprain and strain are for the most part straightforward and easily understood. It’s when you get into the whiplash associated disorder that things become muddy. The Quebec Task Force on Whiplash Associated Disorders has defined it in 5 levels which doctors use to classify injuries. Level one and two are subject to minor injury caps.
The unfortunate part is that although under level one and two you are allowed, under the law, to access quick and easy treatment by a medical practitioner, this leads to more diagnosis of one or two injuries. Unfortunately, these are the two which are capped unlike levels three and four which are more serious in the eyes of The Insurance Act.
To fall outside the cap, you must prove that your injury is not only affecting your daily life but is also not expected to get much better. If you are initially diagnosed with a sprain, strain or whiplash associated disorder number one or two, you may still fall outside the cap by proving that you suffer from chronic pain.
This diagnosis conundrum can often put a doctor and injury victim and his or her lawyer between a rock and a hard place. If the injury is diagnosed as minor, it may be difficult to prove large medical expenses or lost income but it can be done. The cap for minor injuries is for non-pecuniary damages only and does not apply to other benefits available for medical intervention or lost income.
If you have been injured in an accident, call the Grande Prairie injury lawyers at BILAB Personal Injury Lawyer. Our experienced legal experts will help get the compensation you deserve after an accident.