Paraplegic from Car Accident Seek Lawyer Advice Regarding Insurance Claims


Changes to Ontario Automobile Insurance

Car accidents represent almost half of traumatic injuries resulting in paraplegia. With the shock of such a devastating life alteration, seeking a lawyer with experience handling paraplegic car accidents may be far from one’s mind. And yet, enlisting a personal injury lawyer could become necessary.


Typically, unless there are changes to an individual’s status (residence, marital status, employment), automobile insurance policies are automatically renewed. Yet individuals rarely review their insurance coverage. In Ontario, sweeping changes were made to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) effective June 1, 2016. Many Ontario residents may have seen a small reduction in their automobile insurance premium, but are unaware that the reduction comes from significantly decreased accident benefits for catastrophic injuries, such as the loss of use of limbs in the case of paraplegics. Definitions of catastrophic impairment and accident benefits have changed.


Classification Grade of Injury

Previously, the SABS stated that car accident-induced paraplegia or quadriplegia was a catastrophic impairment. However, that has changed. Now, the SABS follows the grading system of the American Spinal Injury Association Classification System (ASIA) and its criteria before someone can be determined to be a paraplegic or quadriplegic and the degree of that individual’s impairment. Some advocacy organizations, such as Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, are concerned that the ASIA methodology could be confusing or open to misinterpretation. They also worry that the ASIA doesn’t fully look at the future care costs of attendants and focuses too much on neurological injury rather than the medical and behavioural complications that arise as a result of paraplegia, such as depression, pressure ulcers (bed sores), and urinary tract infections.


Before June 1, 2016

The standard automobile insurance policy for catastrophic injuries was up to a total of $1 million for medical care and rehabilitation plus an additional up to a total of $1 million for attendant care.


After June 1, 2016

The standard automobile insurance policy now only provides $1 million in total for all medical, rehabilitative, and attendant care. Individuals can elect to increase their coverage, but for those who have already been severely injured in a car accident, increased coverage cannot be applied retroactively.


Having Insurance Does Not Mean Being Fully Insured

In 2013, the Public Health Agency of Canada issued a report noting that paraplegia is a lifetime economic burden estimated to cost $1.5 million. One can see that changes in the SABS may mean a car accident sufferer will not receive the full coverage required.

Thus the reason is clear on why a personal injury lawyer should be contacted before an insurer – and should especially be consulted before the signing of any documents from the insurer. Ontario’s insurance policies and coverage are complicated. A lawyer with an understanding of car accidents that result in an individual becoming a paraplegic is a lawyer with an understanding of the process of obtaining fair benefits for the victim. Look for lawyers accredited as trial lawyers, should the matter require going to civil court.