Ottawa Lawyer | Accident Benefits and Catastrophic Injuries

When The Best Just Won’t Do: Accident Benefits and Catastrophic Injuries

OTTAWA PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER – What would you do for money if you were catastrophically injured in a single car accident and there was no-one to sue?

It is very easy to identify millions of dollars in necessities, not luxuries, that are needed by quadriplegics or others with profound disabilities. Medical devices, lifts, attendant care, prescriptions, physiotherapy, massage therapy, vocational assistance, case management, wheelchairs, adapted transportation and home modifications are just some of basic needs of people who suffer serious injury.

If you don’t have disability insurance and significant extended health benefits, how do you pay for this? If you think the answer is OHIP, think again. Virtually none of the items in that list are covered by OHIP.

Fortunately, in Ontario, we have the most extensive no-fault accident benefits available in North America. Virtually everyone in Ontario who is injured in a motor vehicle accident is entitled to these benefits. That is true even if you do not have your own auto insurance. That’s great, right?

It’s good. Not great.

I met with someone recently who became a quadriplegic in a single car accident a few years ago. There has been no opportunity to make a claim against any form of insurance apart from the no-fault accident benefits. We have been discussing settlement and what might happen down the road. I was asked by a family friend who met with us whether the plan we were proposing, which would be an excellent result relative to what is available, would be enough for this person to cover his needs.

The straight answer I had to give him was “no”. For a young person (and by young I mean 40 and under), there is simply no way to stretch the policy limits under the accident benefits (assuming you can get the limits) to make them cover all of the needs of a quadriplegic if that person lives a typical lifespan. And that is in the province with the best no-fault scheme.

So what is the call to action? First, despite tougher economic times, the message is: resist the urge to make ends meet by cutting disability or other health insurance you have. In the event of a tragic accident, you would need every penny available. If not for yourself, think of the financial and emotional strain on your extended family if you coould not afford your own basic medical needs.

Second, speak up over the coming months when the insurance industry makes noise about cutting the no-fault benefits regime. Tell your MPP that this important safety net is not something you think Ontario should be without. I have relayed this message to my MPP. I hope you will do the same.

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