Ontario’s 2015 Budget is Bad for Accident Victims

Last week the Ontario provincial government released its 2015 budget.  Although it did not get a lot of attention, an entire section of the budget is dedicated to proposed changes to how injured victims are treated after a motor vehicle accident.

By and large, the news is not good.

The first proposal is to change the standard benefit level for medical and rehabilitation benefits to $65,000 (from $50,000) and to include attendant care services under this benefit limit.  Although this looks like an increase, it is actually a decrease.  Attendant care services of $36,000 are currently in place for the standard benefit package.  What happened to that $21,000 of coverage?  Gone!

The second proposal is to include attendant care services with the $1 million medical and rehabilitation benefit for catastrophic impairments.  Again, catastrophically injured victims currently have access to $1 million for EACH of medical rehabilitation and attendant care benefits.   The Premier was asked why Ontario was making this change.  Her answer was that Ontario has very “generous” benefits.   Generous is relative.  If you are a young person with a severe spinal cord injury, you will very quickly learn that $1 million is not very much money.  There was no reason provided to explain why the insurance companies require this change.

The third proposal is to reduce the standard duration of medical and rehabilitation benefits from 10 years to five years for all claimants except children.    Given the long wait times for MRIs and some types of orthopedic surgeries, there will be some accident victims who will not get proper rehab after their accident because the benefits will expire before they have time to use them.

The fourth proposal is to eliminate the six-month waiting period for non-earner benefits and limit the duration of non-earner benefits to two years after the accident.  In order to qualify for non-earner benefits, you have to be completely unable to live a normal life.  Only the most injured people qualify for this benefit.  Currently, there is a 6 month waiting period to qualify, but the benefits last until age 65 and then decrease in amount to age 70.  This is a very significant cut that will hurt Ontario’s most vulnerable.  The benefit is currently $185 per week.

There are other proposed changes that will negatively impact accident victims.  For example, the $30,000 deductible on damages for pain and suffering is going to be indexed to inflation.  That deductible applies to pain and suffering awards under $100,000.  That $100,000 number is also going to be indexed to inflation.  Indexing to inflation seems reasonable.  However, where the dollar figures are to the benefit of accident victims, there is no proposal to index for inflation. For example, the income replacement benefit under the Statutory Accident Benefits has been $400 per week for more than a decade.  The non-earner benefit is $185 per week.   How about a little indexing there?

Overall, this budget is a kick in the teeth to people who have already been kicked in the teeth!  And really, there is no explanation for why these changes are necessary or assist Ontarians.   The government seems to want to be congratulated  for lowering insurance premiums.  However,  it is no great feat to get a lower price for a lower quality insurance policy.

Ontarians will be getting less coverage for (maybe, it remains to be seen) lower premiums.  If you want to maintain your level of coverage, you have to pay for upgrades, i.e. pay more for the same.

Why no uproar?  Primarily because the people who will be negatively impacted by these changes do not know it yet.  These are accidents waiting to happen.

 

I want to get Canada Pension Plan Disability

Many of our clients have been denied Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPP-D) upon first application.  This is not surprising since over 60% of initial applications are denied.

However, with our help, many clients succeed in getting CPP-D benefits by requesting a reconsideration within the timeline specified in the rejection letter.

What do we do in the reconsideration letter?

  • We look carefully at the specific reasons Service Canada gives for the rejection and we address those reasons directly.
  • We provide a clear explanation of the disabilities suffered by the client, in plain English, and reference the supporting medical records.
  • We explain how with those medical problems, the client does meet the “severe and prolonged” definition in the CPP legislation.
  • We attach all relevant medical records.

If you have been denied CPP-Disability and would like our disability lawyer‘s help to seek a reconsideration, please contact us at 613 233-4529.

 

What to Expect if You Hire a Disability Insurance lawyer?

  • Our disability lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth will help you understand the basis for the insurance company’s denial of your claim.  Whether it is short term disability, long term disability, Canada Pension Plan Disability or ODSP, our lawyers can explain, in plain English, why you have been denied.
  • Once we have determined why you have been denied, we can help you decide the right course of action.  Sometimes you need more medical support for your claim.  Sometimes your employer has not sent in the required information.  Sometimes you have missed a deadline or have applied too early.  Regardless of the problem, we will provide you with the advice you need.
  • Depending on the insurance company (or government body), we will give you advice on what to do next.  Sometimes, we will write a letter of appeal on your behalf asking the insurer to reconsider its decision.  Sometimes we will send a detailed medical brief.  Sometimes, there will be no alternative but to start a law suit against the insurance company.
  • If we need to start a law suit to get you the benefits you deserve, we will support you the entire way and prosecute your claim vigorously.   Most disability claim files settle without a trial.  However, if you need a trial to get your benefits, we will take your case to trial.

Along the way, if you have questions, we’ll have answers.  Every client in our office is assigned three points of contact.  There are at least 3 people who will know your file and be able to answer your questions.

Want to discuss if Auger Hollingsworth can help you get the disability benefits you need and deserve?  Call 613 233-4529 today.

 

5 Things You Can DO Today to IMPROVE your accident case

5 Things you can do today to improve your car accident case

 

If you have recently been in a car accident, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure about what to do.  As Ottawa personal injury lawyers, we have had many clients ask us about what they can do to help their case.  There are five simple ways that you can contribute to the success of your car accident claim.

 

  1. First, whether you have minor or serious injuries, it is important to keep all of your medical appointments.  This may seem obvious, but going to all of your scheduled appointments with doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors, etc. demonstrates that you take your injuries, and your case, seriously.
  2. Secondly, seek all the medical attention necessary, and in doing so, use the maximum of your employment health benefits.  Not only will this give you the maximum benefit of medical care, but it demonstrates your efforts to address your injuries using all of your resources.
  3. It is also important for you to describe your symptoms consistently and accurately.  In order to improve the likelihood of having a successful claim, there must be a record of your all of your symptoms and injuries.  Each detail contributes to an accurate and complete description of the injuries you suffered in the accident.
  4. Just as it is important for you to seek all necessary medical advice, it is also essential that you follow all treatment recommendations.  Only by following the recommendations of your doctors will you begin to heal from your injuries.  It also improves your car accident case if you pursue all treatment options.
  5. Lastly, a good personal injury lawyer can provide important legal advice and guidance.  As experts in the field of car accident claims, the personal injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth offer invaluable experience to help you make a successful claim.  By following all of these steps, you can be assured that you are doing everything you can to improve your case.

 

Call Auger Hollingsworth at 613 233-4529!  We will come to you or meet with you at one of our convenient Ottawa locations.