The lawyers at Girones Bourdon Kelly Lawyers in Timmins have seen this problem too many times.
Individuals who have been injured in an auto collision come into their office to find out what they might receive in compensation and are then shocked to learn that under the provisions of the no-fault insurance system in Ontario, they will receive minimal standard benefits, such as income replacement and medical rehabilitation benefits.
The personal injury lawyers at GBK Lawyers say there are steps that you can take to protect yourself. The most important is purchasing optional coverage to increase the level of benefits. GBK Lawyers say, “Enhanced benefit coverage is not something you think about until you’re injured in an accident. If you’re involved a motor vehicle collision, this is where it becomes important, especially in terms of your loss of income claim.”
Income replacement benefits
Ontario’s Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule provides some monetary relief for car accident victims who miss work because of their injuries. Income replacement benefits (“IRB”) are available to those whose accident-related injuries prevent them from working at all or at the same level they did prior to the accident. This disability could be a physical or emotional impairment such as debilitating back pain or post-traumatic stress disorder.
The income replacement benefits are calculated based on gross income. You may receive payments to cover as much as 70% of your gross weekly income. The benefits normally do not exceed $400 per week. At 104 weeks and beyond, until you reach age 65, the eligibility requirement for IRBs changes in that you must be suffering a complete inability to engage in any employment or self-employment for which you are reasonably suited by education, training, or experience.
GBK Lawyers say, “For an increase in your insurance premium, you could get optional coverage of $600, $800, or $1,000 per week to replace your income if you cannot work as a result of being injured in a motor vehicle collision. When you speak to your insurance provider to get coverage on your vehicle, this could be very important.”
Many people refuse the optional income replacement benefits because they think that being injured in a car accident and being unable to work won’t happen to them. They often say, “It won’t happen to me, I’m a good driver. But if they are injured and told the most they can expect is $400 a week, they say they can’t live on that.”
That’s why GBK Lawyers say, “If you can increase it to $1000 a week, depending on your income, it might be something you want to consider.” Unfortunately, GBK Lawyers only see individuals after they’ve been injured. That’s why they want to let everyone know the pitfalls of not having optional coverage for income replacement so that they can protect themselves in case they are injured in an accident.
Medical rehabilitation benefits
Another optional benefit that GBK Lawyers urge people to consider is for medical and rehabilitation expenses. One of the primary reasons for getting extra medical rehabilitation coverage is the comprehensive nature of rehabilitation itself. Collisions can cause a wide range of injuries, including fractures, whiplash, soft tissue injuries and traumatic brain injuries. These types of injuries may require different forms of rehabilitation, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic care, or psychological counselling.
The statutory medical and rehabilitation benefit provides coverage for expenses that are not covered under OHIP or group insurance plans. There is coverage for three types of injury.
- Minor injury guideline such as minor injuries
- Non-catastrophic injuries such as sprains, whiplash, or broken bones
- Catastrophic injuries such as a brain injury, a loss of limb, or quadriplegia
In Ontario, the statutory benefit for medical rehabilitation for a non-catastrophic injury is $3,500 if your injuries are considered minor, otherwise it is $65,000. The coverage must be used within 5 years, and it also includes attendant care costs such as the cost of a personal support worker. But with optional benefits, you can increase that amount to $130,000 or $1,000,000. The $1,000,000 limit provides coverage for a lifetime.
For a catastrophic injury, the statutory coverage is $1,000,000. Purchasing optional benefits will increase that coverage up to $2,000,000.
Housekeeping and home maintenance
Even if your injury is non-catastrophic you may have difficulty cutting grass, clearing snow, or cleaning your house. However, the statutory benefits in your insurance policy provide nothing to help with housekeeping and home maintenance.
GBK Lawyers say, “For an increase in your premium, you can receive $100 a week to pay for the upkeep of your home. If your injuries are catastrophic, you are eligible for the $100 per week home maintenance and housekeeping coverage.”
Third-party liability coverage
You’re legally required to have a minimum of $200,000 for third-party liability coverage. However, you can increase that coverage as well, up to $2,000,000. If a driver is found responsible for a collision that results in serious injury or death, and there is a judgement that is greater than $200,000, then they are responsible for the balance of the judgement. GBK Lawyers say, “If a collision does happen, the slight increase in premium payments will be worth it.” There are many optional benefits, but these are the most important. These are the benefits that GBK Lawyers see are most often needed.”
If you have been in a motor vehicle accident, you should contact a personal injury lawyer to ensure that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled. The team at GBK Lawyers are there to guide you through what can be a complex process and to ensure that your rights are protected.