The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) and Alliance of Community Medical and Rehabilitation Providers are launching a media campaign against proposed changes to the definition of a catastrophic impairment for victims injured in car accidents.
Currently, accident victims who are deemed to have suffered a catastrophic (CAT) injury are eligible for basic medical and rehabilitation benefits of up to $1 million. But the OTLA and rehab alliance group argue that if the province accepts the recommendations of the expert panel, the CAT threshold will be raised significantly.
“We estimate that the number of cases deemed catastrophic will be reduced by half if these changes are implemented,” says OTLA president Andrew Murray.
“If the government goes ahead with this, it will hurt a lot of very vulnerable people,” says Nick Gurevich, president of the Alliance of Community Medical and Rehabilitation Providers.
The two groups are running full-page ads in newspapers this week and next, and urging people to contact their local MPPs.
An expert panel commissioned by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (SCO) issued its report on catastrophic impairment definition in April 2011. That report made several recommendations, including not combining physical and psychological injuries in determining catastrophic impairment, requiring medical doctors or qualified neuropsychologists to be the lead evaluators in catastrophic injury assessment and establishing an interim status for people with traumatic brain injuries and major physical impairments to get quick access to rehabilitation services.
In a June 12 report posted online, Ontario’s regulator of auto insurance accident benefits, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), has proposed to the government that the expert panel’s recommendation be adopted.
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) noted in a recent submission to a provincial government committee studying auto insurance that between 2004 and 2010, the number of no-fault injury claims rose 28%, while the count for large claims has more than doubled. Hospitalizations from motor vehicle accidents are down 12%, yet auto insurers are being presented with many more catastrophic injury claims, according to IBC figures.